This month is the 15th anniversary of the release of Internet Explorer 1 and to celebrate, we’ve delivered an IE3 T-shirt one of our readers who has been waiting patiently for 14 years.


The Background:

When we started this blog back in June, we anxiously awaited our first comments. Would people find the blog? Would people care? And then the first comment popped up:

It was probably a tongue-in-cheek comment, but since “kpod” had made the time to ask, it felt like we should probably send him a shirt. Unfortunately, “swag” doesn’t live long around here and the Internet Explorer team had moved buildings many times so the IE3 shirts were long gone. We were getting ready to send out a more recent Internet Explorer 8 shirt. Then one of our senior managers saw the comment. He was an intern on the team in 1996 and still knew the guy who organized the promotion. Step forward Steve Jenkins! Not only did Steve have one last IE3 Midnight Madness shirt left, he also knew exactly where it was.


The Delivery:

T-shirt in hand, we sent Rachel Appel from our Developer and Platform Evangelism team to visit “kpod” (A.K.A Kim Podolnick) to deliver his long awaited Midnight Madness T-Shirt and to ask him about his recollection of the early days of the Internet and web browsers.

Rachel: How did you find the Exploring IE blog? What made you bring up the T-shirt?

Kim: I think the post about the IE blog appeared on the Windows Blog. Every time a new version of IE is released I remember "Midnight Madness."

Rachel: Did you think we’d take you seriously?

Kim: NO!

Rachel: This T-shirt has been a long time in coming. Why were you supposed to get the shirt?

Kim: I was one of the first 10,000 people to download IE3 after it was released at midnight on August 13th 1996. I received an email from Microsoft congratulating me and letting me know I would be getting a T-shirt.

Rachel: Back in 1996, what connection did you have? How long did the download take?

Kim: I had a dial-up connection – very slow by today’s standards. I'm not sure how long it took. I started the download and went to sleep.

Rachel: Were you looking forward to the release of IE3 or did you just download it the T-shirt encourage you to download it?

Kim: I was excited about IE3. At the time most people used Netscape Navigator to access the web. IE3 was an alternative to Netscape!

Rachel: What do you remember about IE3 – what was so cool about it at the time?

Kim: Number one, it was free – you had to pay for Netscape Navigator. Two, it was technologically advanced. [Internet Explorer 3 was the first browser to support CSS and introduced support for ActiveX controls and inline multimedia – James]

Rachel: You’re obviously a long time web user, how has the web changed in the last 15 years? What sort of things were you doing then? What are you doing now that you wish you could do then?

Kim: The web changed everything....banking, shopping, communication . Everything! I started on the internet in 1993 before browsers were popular. The first service I used was a service called "Pipeline". They had a text-only browser. When Netscape started to become popular, Pipeline developed their own browser.

Rachel: Is there anything you miss from the web at that time?

Kim: Deja News [Deja News was a newsgroup archiving service that allowed you to search through a web interface. Cutting edge at the time! – James]

Rachel: Now you finally have your Midnight Madness T-Shirt, what are you going to do with it?

Kim: I’m going to show it off! After all this time it still glows!


What’s Next:

It was great to be able to do something to celebrate where we’ve come from. At PDC09 in November last year, we made some commitments to the developer community about our future with Internet Explorer 9:

  • Internet Explorer 9 would help enable the same markup to work across browsers
  • Internet Explorer 9 would be all-round fast
  • Through Windows and modern hardware, Internet Explorer 9 would unlock the next class of experiences for the web
At MIX10 in March of this year, we released our first Internet Explorer Platform Preview and committed to updating it approximately every 8 weeks. Last week we released our 4th platform preview. Each release has supported more of the same markup that developers want to use to create the next generation of web experiences: HTML5, CSS3, ECMAScript 5 and more. Each release has been faster than the one before and as a result our score on popular micro-benchmarks like WebKit’s SunSpider have improved. With each release, through Windows and modern hardware we’ve showcased the possibilities for the next generation of web experiences through our Internet Explorer Test Drive site.

The developer and web community have certainly taken notice of the work we’ve done and the commitments we’ve kept. There’s palpable excitement building for the next milestone, Internet Explorer 9 Beta. Here’s a couple of the many tweets from enthusiastic developers :

johnallsopp: Huge day for the web with today's IE update. Canvas, video, more css3. Great stuff.

pauldappleby: Just had a look at the IE9 fourth platform preview. It really is impressive stuff


Stay tuned. We’ll be sharing more about Internet Explorer 9 Beta soon!