One Smart Cookie: History of the Web 1.0
Silicon Valley is packed with entrepreneurs with impressive resumes and intriguing pasts. But when you’re credited with inventing a core piece of the Internet and were once named People Magazine’s sexiest Internet mogul, you have some serious street cred for standing out in the crowd.
That guy is Zetta’s Chief Scientist Lou Montulli. Montulli was part of the select group of technologists and business mavens who blazed a trail in the early- to mid-nineties to create the Web—the modern-day dependency of choice for most of us, who can’t let an hour go by without going online to conduct business, be entertained, socialize, get information, or to buy stuff.
Montulli joined forces with Netscape team Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark after realizing they were working on similar browser efforts. The group dropped their disparate attempts in favor of a fresh start to create a commercial Internet browser that would appeal to the average consumer, not just the academics and government techies who, at the time, were the primary users of the Internet.
The fruits of their collaboration became Netscape Navigator, the first widely-used commercial browser, as well as a company that set the stage for the “Internet startup goes public” scenario, which is now a staple of Silicon Valley life.
With his hands in an array of foundational Web technologies, from blink tags to proxy authentication, Montulli is best known for his work creating cookies, which are essentially small pieces of data deposited in a Web browser by websites to help remember details like passwords or shopping preferences. Montulli was recognized as the creator of the first Internet cookies in the 2014 Guinness World Records.
Montulli left Netscape in 1998, after riding its startup wave and groundbreaking IPO. After co-founding Epinions.com and Memory Matrix, a consumer photo services applications which was acquired by Shutterfly, Montulli co-founded Zetta with former Netscape colleagues, and he’s been directing engineering and development here for the last six years.
In celebration of the 20-year anniversary of Netscape, Montulli sat down to share his story as part of the Internet History podcast series. In his hour-plus interview, Montulli recounts how one of the most influential Internet startups came together, explains the early vision for foundational Web technologies, and talks about how the Internet has surpassed what he and the other early pioneers could have ever imagined.
“When you look at the time period between 1994 and 1995 when we got started, every major piece of technology which drives the Web today was invented in that time period by a relatively small group of engineers,” he says in the podcast. “I’m humbled and overjoyed that I was able to be part of such a special team.”
Click on Montulli’s podcast interview to hear the full story.