Last updateFri, 22 Feb 2019 1pm

The Browser – the Internet program without which we would all be lost

When I was school age, the story went around campus of the girl who failed her driver’s license test. 

It seems the testing officer told her she failed to set the parking brake, to which she responded “What’s that?”  Sometimes I will ask someone to open their browser and they answer, “What’s that?”  Far from being frustrated I remind myself what a truly wonderful thing it is for completely non-technical people to be able to use the vast resources of the internet.

What is an Internet Browser?  The best definition I can offer is that a browser, also known as a web browser or internet browser, is a software program installed on your computer/tablet/phone that you use to access the internet and view web pages.  Your browser is your window to the internet and without it you would be utterly lost.

The main purpose of browser programs is to translate, or render, the complex computer programming code that websites are designed in into the web pages you see on your screen.  Without a browser, the internet of today would be impossible for most people to use.  I know this because I remember that before the first graphical browser software, the internet was text-based and required technical knowledge of the commands to be typed into the keyboard.  The number of people who possessed this technical knowledge was very limited.

The first web browser was named “WorldWideWeb” created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1990.  With this invention people no longer needed to have deep technical knowledge to be able to go online.  Previously, if you wanted to download a file, you had to master many commands, such as “mget/pub/program/releases-3.0/win32/en-US/1.img” and if you got one character wrong nothing happened.  Today, you need only click on a file to download it.

The most popular current browsers are (in no particular order) Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge (formerly Internet Explorer), Apple Safari, Opera and AOL Explorer.  There are many others designed to meet the tastes and needs of various users.  It is important to remember it is your prerogative to use whichever browser or browsers that suit your needs.

Because web site developers are such a lazy and inefficient bunch, the web sites they create are never perfect.  Some websites display better in one internet browser and not well in another.  For this reason, I recommend having at least two browsers installed and available on your computer.  This does not mean you have to use both of them.  If a certain page will not display properly in your primary browser, it might work flawlessly when loaded in your secondary internet browser.  This is the first thing you need to try whenever a web page fails to load completely.

In the end though, the best web browser for you to use is a matter of your personal preference, so feel free to choose the one you like best.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant with more than 20 years IT experience and a Texan with a lifetime love for Mexico.  The opinions expressed are his own.  He may be contacted through his web site at SMAguru.com.

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