ViolaWWW, first developed in the early 1990s, was the first popular web browser (though to a limited audience) which, until Mosaic, was the most frequently used web browser for access to the World Wide Web.


Gillies and Cailliau in "How the Web was Born", offer an extensive history of the development of "Viola". "Viola" was the invention of Pei-Yuan Wei, who at the time was a student at the University of California, Berkeley.


His interest in graphically based software began with HyperCard which he first discovered in 1989. Gillies and Cailliau quote Pei-Yuan Wei on this discovery: "HyperCard was very compelling back then, you know graphically, this hyperlink thing, it was just not very global and it only worked on Mac...and I didn't even have a Mac" (p.213). Only having access to X terminals, he (in 1990) created the first version of "Viola" for them: "I got a HyperCard manual and looked at it and just basically took the concepts and implemented them in X-windows [sic] " (p.213).

Viola 0.8

He released "Viola 0.8" in 1991, and then after graduating began to develop "Viola" even further while working with "Berkeley's Experimental Computing Facility" as well as at a few start ups (p.213).

The World Wide Web

At this time, as Gillies and Cailliau indicate, Pei Wei's major goal was to create a version of "Viola" for the Internet:

:"what Pei Wei wanted to do next was run it over the Internet. X-Window was a Unix-based system so it had TCP/IP built in and the Internet was a logical step. The question was how to transport his Viola pages across the Internet. He was on the verge of an independent invention of networked hypertext. 'And that's when I read Tim's e-mail about the World Wide Web' he explains 'The URL was very, very clever, it was perfectly what I needed. He dropped Tim a line saying that he was thinking of writing a browser for X. 'Sounds like a good idea,' said Tim in a reply posted to www-talk on 9 December. Four Days later, Pei Wei told www-talk that he had made a browser" (p.214)."


Created in 1992, it was the first browser to use authoring technology such as embedded scriptable objects, stylesheets, and tables. According to Gillies and Cailliau "Viola was to become the first X-browser to make any impact, but even his early versions went down well at CERN...As this ViolaWWW developed, it was to set the standard for everything to follow it..." (p.214). Ed Kroll also highlighted it in his popular 1992 text, "Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog".


As ViolaWWW developed, it began to look more like HyperCard:

:"It had a bookmark facility so that you could keep track of your favourite pages. It had buttons for going backwards and forwards and a history feature to keep track of the places you had been. As time went on, it acquired tables and graphics and by May 1993 it could even run programs." (p.214).


It was based on the Viola toolkit, which is a tool for the development and support of visual interactive media applications, with a multimedia web browser being a possible application. Viola ran under the X Window System and could be used to build complex hypermedia applications that were beyond HTML 3.0 (the latest version of HTML at that time).

Ahead of its time

Viola was interesting because it was the first web browser to have the following features:

* client-side document insertion, predating frames, or syndication via javascript output writing, which are used commonly today.


While ViolaWWW opened the door to the World Wide Web, its limitations (including the fact that it was only used on X Window System) could not compete with Mosaic, the browser which brought the world wide web into the mainstream [] . According to Freedman in the "Computer Desktop Encyclopedia", "Mosaic was 'the' application that caused interest in the World Wide Web to explode. Originally developed for UNIX, it was soon ported to Windows" (p. 629).

Microsoft v. Eolas and ViolaWWW prior art

Because of ViolaWWW, Microsoft was allowed a retrial in February 2005 in the Microsoft v. Eolas case. The original ruling would have cost software giant Microsoft $521 million in damages. Eolas Technologies and the University of California sued Microsoft for allegedly infringing patents with the Internet Explorer web browser. The case revolved around a patent held by Eolas and the University which claims to cover ways of making other software work seamlessly with web browsers.

Microsoft had wanted to show the court ViolaWWW as prior art, since it was created in 1993 at the University of California, a year before the patent was filed. Microsoft had also suggested that Michael David Doyle, the founder of Eolas' and a former University of California researcher, had intentionally concealed his knowledge of ViolaWWW when filing the patent claim.

ee also

*List of web browsers


*Freedman, Alan. "Computer Desktop Encyclopedia, 9th Edition." New York: Osborne, 2001.
* Gillies, James & Robert Cailliau. "How the Web was born: The Story of the World Wide Web." Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

External links

* [ The Viola Home Page]
* [ Court stays $521m Microsoft fine] , BBC News, March 3, 2005.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ViolaWWW — es considerado como el primer navegador gráfico de la historia, precursor del popular navegador Mosaic, que a posteriori se convertiría en el primer referente clásico de la tecnología World Wide Web. Su desarrollo se origina en la Universidad de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mosaic (web browser) — This article is about the browser produced by NCSA. For the browser that was later renamed, see Netscape Navigator. Mosaic Mosaic 3.0 for Windows Developer(s) NCSA Initial release …   Wikipedia

  • University of California, Berkeley — Seal of the University of California, Berkeley Motto Latin: Fiat Lux Motto in English Let There Be Light …   Wikipedia

  • Comparison of web browsers — September 2011, web browser usage share. Source: Median values from summary table …   Wikipedia

  • Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog — Infobox Book name =Whole Internet User s Guide and Catalog author = Ed Krol country = United States language = English genre = Computer Science publisher = O Reilly release date = September 1992 isbn = The Whole Internet User s Guide Catalog , by …   Wikipedia

  • Liste bekannter chinesischer US-Amerikaner — In dieser Liste nennt Persönlichkeiten des öffentlichen Lebens, die US amerikanische Staatsbürger sind bzw. waren und chinesische Vorfahren haben. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Musiker 2 Künstler, Designer, Architekten 3 Schriftsteller …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • HyperCard — Infobox Software name = HyperCard logo = caption = HyperCard Screenshot developer = Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) latest release version = 2.4.1 latest release date = 1998 operating system = System Software 6, System 7, Mac OS 8, Mac …   Wikipedia

  • Pei-Yuan Wei — (zh cp|c=魏培源|p=Wèi Péiyuán) created ViolaWWW, one of the first graphical web browsers.Pei Yuan Wei was born in TaiwanFact|date=October 2007. He graduated from Berkeley High School Fact|date=October 2007in 1986 and received his B.A. from the… …   Wikipedia

  • Berkeley University — Vorlage:Infobox Hochschule/Mitarbeiter fehltVorlage:Infobox Hochschule/Professoren fehlt University of California, Berkeley Motto Fiat Lux Gründung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Berkeley Universität — Vorlage:Infobox Hochschule/Mitarbeiter fehltVorlage:Infobox Hochschule/Professoren fehlt University of California, Berkeley Motto Fiat Lux Gründung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.