In Pictures: The 10 most important milestones in Web browser history

Okay, say you have this shiny new car. It looks great, it performs like a demon, it features all the latest safety gadgets, and it's crawling with creature comforts. Just one problem, though. The local tinkerer, clearly consumed by jealousy, comes by sometime during the night to disassemble the entire thing. Sitting in the middle of a zillion bits and pieces the next morning, you quickly realize how totally useless this marvelously complicated car has become. This is the Internet without a browser. Far more than the blank slate it appears to be, a Web browser is ridiculously sophisticated and entirely capable of morphing the code-crazed reality of the Internet into the Matrix-like façade we now can't live without.

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Opera, 1994 In an industry that would eventually abound with mercurial entities, the Scandinavian designed Opera has been a rare constant since its 1994 launch. While other browsers have come and gone—or at least experienced wild popularity/usage swings—Opera has steadily maintained its (admittedly small) desktop market share and slowly and meticulously expanded its reach far, far beyond the PC.

Reach? Well, sure. You'll find Opera-designed browsers for the Nintendo Wii and DS, iPad and Android tablets, smartphones, PDAs, and other mobile devices. Current stats put the number of Opera users worldwide at 300 million. Not too shabby, and it proves that initiative can compete successfully in the same arena where brute power most often reigns.

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In Pictures: The 10 most important milestones in Web browser history

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