Web Browser Wednesday

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1As Web browsers start to control the usefulness of a computer it is important to look back on how far we have come. Firefox, a Web browser that is quickly gaining popularity, has almost been out for 4-years but how many of you have been using it that long? It actually started with the first release in September 2002 and was called Phoenix. The BIOS manufacturer named Phoenix Technologies forced Mozilla to change the name of the browser to something else, which resulted in the name Mozilla Firebird around April of 2003. They then received pressure from the Open Source community to change their name again because it was too similar to the database server called Firebird. Finally in early-2004 it became the browser we have all come to know and love: Mozilla Firefox!

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1

I found the above image from Wikipedia’s Firefox article which has a lot of great information in it. However, To go back in time I actually went and found the download from Mozilla for Phoenix 0.1! All I had to do is download the ZIP file, extract, and run the Phoenix.exe file found inside. The funny thing is that the download is 8.32MB in size while the most current Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 is only 7.4MB! Alright, let’s get into some screenshots now: –Oops, looks like I am not running the most current version of Firefox…–

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1
Click To Enlarge


–Preference Screen: General–

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1


–Preference Screen: Fonts–

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1


–Preference Screen: Privacy–

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1


–Preference Screen: Advanced (soon to come :D )–

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1


–Oh yeah, no nice RSS formatting like Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 has in it…–

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1


–But look…There is still tabs!–

A Look Back At Firefox (Phoenix) 0.1


–Overview– I hope you enjoyed those pictures because tinkering around with Phoenix 0.1 really brought back some memories and it makes me even more grateful for the quality Web browsers that are available today. I think my favorite part was the first screenshot in the series above which showed I wasn’t running the most current version of Firefox. If you really want to go through the different version of Firefox (also known as Phoenix and Firebird) from the past then head over to the Firefox releases page which has all of the different versions.

There Are 38 Comments

  1. Great article. I really enjoyed reading it. I wasn’t a Firefox user back then as I switched sometime around release 1.0ish.

    Question: When you wrote “All I had to do is download the ZIP file, extract, and run the Phoenix.exe file found inside,” is that like a Portable Firefox? If I download and unzip it and run the .exe it won’t install anything?

  2. Correct, you don’t have to install anything but it is not like the Portable Firefox. I didn’t check when I was using it but I am sure it made a Profile folder somewhere which stored my data (bookmarks, etc…). I know that it didn’t use my existing Firefox profile so it is safe to download and play with for a few minutes.


  3. Max, Firefox 0.8 on Windows was the first release to have a installer as it was just the better .zip before up until then. Just download the .zip, extract it, and run the *.exe and away you go surfing, no extra install crap.

    Firefox 1.0.1 was the last Firefox release to have a .zip version as there were crashes caused by people who carelessly mixed .zip and installer version on top of install.. not a good thing to do. Nightly builds still have .zips as that is the preferred among many nightly testers.

    Ryan, Your profile folder for Phoenix 0.1 – 0.5, Firebird 0.6-0.7, and Firefox 0.8 is in the “Phoenix” folder in the same general default location where you would find your Firefox profiles as to why Phoenix 0.1 did not try and use a Firefox Profile.

    ex: C:\Documents and Settings\averageJoe\Application Data\Phoenix

  4. Thanks for all the info James! I figured the profile folder was named Phoenix but I couldn’t be sure because I wasn’t able to check my computer that I tested this on.


  5. I wasn’t a [] previously, only until when Firefox become popular (at around version 1.0.x), then I started using Firefox.

  6. ‘There *are* still tabs’ ;-)

  7. Yeah, that’s cool. I tried it on


    and it works/looks the same as new fox :)


  8. Nice article, brings me back quite a bit; I got involved back when Mozila hit M20, and wrote a script (getmoz – hosted on mozdev) that would checkout the latest CVS from Mozilla, compile it and move it into place each night. Back then there were so many changes night to night it was like opening a present and finding something new; or ending up with an immediate crash and have to rollback to yesterday’s build! Regardless, I remember when Phoenix got to 0.1 and that was it, I thought that would be the more popular option in the long run, but I never saw Mozilla going away as it has. I think Firefox just conforms to the “right tool for the job” and while not as lean as back when it was Phoenix, it was the right base to build off of for a browser. Just updated to yesterday — how time flies.


  9. I happily remember using Pheonix back in the day, then proudly using *cough* Firebird, heck yes! Now Firefox! Heh, fire!

    - j

  10. I was around for 0.4, I still have the install for that in my storage directory…


    Even back on 0.4 though it was such an amazing improvement over IE that I never looked back.

    I was chomping at the bit for Thunderbird back then, which as I recal wasn’t quite released yet, as I was also sick to death of Outlook.

    The only reason I am still using windows is that the folks that write games keep neglecting to write them to run under a decent OS…

    Its always nice to look back at the origin of something.

    Thanks Cybernet

  11. I’d take Phoenix 0.1 over IE anything.

  12. I am glad everyone is enjoying a look back in history. I actually didn’t jump on the bandwagon until about version 0.8 and I definitely knew that it was going to be something great.

    I had a lot of fun writing this article up and our team plans on doing more articles like this so that we can really appreciate what talented developers bring to us.

    Hope everyone continues to enjoy it, and don’t forget to []!


  13. I started using it at 0.3

  14. I hopped on v0.4, when it was firebird. My name is on the new york times ad :) I even attended a 1.0 release party. yeah, I’m a geek, but the web is the gateway to the world, and Firefox maked the (at least my) world better.

  15. I started using it at 0.4 :)

  16. Very good article. Just looking back 4 years makes me happy how fast firefox is growing

  17. I remember a friend ranting about Firebird and convincing me to try it out. I haven’t looked back since. Call me a fanboy, but I cannot see myself ever going back to IE.

    Great article.

  18. I`m using firefox for 2 years now and I`m enjoying it.

  19. Yerall babies. :-)

    Real men use Netscape 1.0 (Released in 1994) with the “throbbing “N”) logo. Less than 1M download and it was blazing fast, in part because we didn’t clof the net with so many darn images. It was nearly ALL content.

    Just imagine!


  20. You damn kids and your Netscape 1.0. I used Mosaic. Before that, we had to telnet to port 80 and speak HTTP ourselves. Which was especially hard before I finally got a modem, since before I had to whistle 300 baud into a payphone. And I had to lug my PC XT 50 miles in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways.

  21. Nice article, thanks for the download link – I didn’t have that 1st version saved. Some day I plan on having every version installed and usable on the same PC.
    I started with Firebird 0.6 and I am still running Firebird 0.7 on my workshop lab scope PC, and use it to pull up saved technical web pages from my LAN file server PC when I am working in my workshop.

    I got so used to using ZIP-builds in the early days that I have used exactly one installer build (0.8RC) in the last 2 1/2 years – once was enough.


  22. I’ve been using a Mozilla browser since about M5.

  23. I actually remember the “Gecko technology preview”, which predated phoenix by quite some time.

    It was basically a hacked up window that rendered pages using gecko. It rendered pretty nice, but was unstable, ugly and featureless, so I deleted it after some time.

    After a while I stumbled upon Pheonix 0.2 and went from there.

  24. Actually the image that you found in Wikipedia was made by me. :-P

  25. Does anyone know where I can get the source code of Phoenix? Did Mozilla ever release that with the binaries? I just see the binaries on their FTP servers. :cry:

  26. hola, que antiguo esto … y eso, chao y que esten bien :mrgreen: :oops:

  27. Back then I was still using IE :cry:. Ah, the glory of enlightenment.

  28. I’m using Firefox since 0.6 or 0.7 (don’t remember exactly). And I switched from Opera to Firefox.

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