In the post I mention developing for Netscape version 2 in the post. I don’t recall actually attempting to run the browser at the time of writing, so last night I decided to track down a copy of Netscape 2 and poke around the web. Unfortunately Netscape Navigator 4.01 was the earliest version of Netscape I get my hands on. To my surprise it actually installed and ran in Windows 7! Talk about backwards compatibility.
A small gallery of modern sites viewed in Netscape 4.
The first browsers with support for anything resembling modern front-end features were versions 6 of Netscape and Internet Explorer, released in 2001. That’s after the collapse of the dot-com bubble! Investors were spending billions of dollars on technology that couldn’t even render a png!
In conclusion, I think my original idea of developing a 1996 compatible site would be a lot more difficult than I had thought. But given that this era of browser technology represents such an important time in the Internet’s history, I think it would still be a worthwhile endeavour. Who’s up for it?