14 Classic Tech Rivalries

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Netscape vs. Internet Explorer

What's So Great About Netscape?

Alas, poor Netscape has ceased to be. After debuting in 1994, Netscape (called Netscape Navigator starting with version 2.0) quickly became the most popular Web browser and helped turn a mostly text-based and underutilized global network of networks called the Internet into the hottest thing since (at the time) Tiffany-Amber Thiessen. Over the course of a byzantine series of version numbering systems and owners, Netscape gradually lost market share, but eventually it inspired the open-source Mozilla and Firefox browsers.

What's So Great About Internet Explorer?

Because Internet Explorer is integrated with Windows, it's always there, it loads quickly, and it continues to be the most popular browser in use. Some Web site components, such as Netflix's Watch Instantly feature, are written to work exclusively with Internet Explorer (sorry, Mac users). IE 7 has incorporated a few key amenities from Firefox, too, including pop-up blocking and a tabbed interface. The current version of Microsoft's browser, IE 7, works well and becomes a necessity at Web sites that refuse to work with Firefox. At this rate, though, by the time IE 8 comes out, its features will be lagging years behind those of Mozilla's Firefox.

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Nintendo vs. Sega

What's So Great About Nintendo?

After a North American release through Atari fell through, Nintendo went it alone, unveiling its Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) at the 1985 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Nintendo's Mario, the Mario Brothers sibling originally known as Jumpman, is arguably the best-known and most beloved video-game character in history. By 1990, the NES was the best-selling video game console in the United States, thanks to titles like Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt (with Zapper gun), The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong Jr. In 1989, Nintendo began to lose market share in North America to Sega's 16-bit Genesis console--a circumstance that Nintendo sought to reverse in 1991 with the release of its own 16-bit console, the Super NES. These two 16-bit rivals were the key combatants in the notorious console wars of that era--a conflict that stirred more-intense schoolyard and media debate than today's Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3 rivalry. Were you a Mario maniac or a Sonic the Hedgehog kid?

What's So Great About Sega?

Sega launched its Master System in the United States only a few months after Nintendo's original NES became widely available. But Nintendo had a trump card to play against Sega: Its strict game developer contracts prohibited developers from releasing any NES game on any other console for two years. Because the NES had emerged as the dominant console, a developer had to decide between maximizing its game's sales and gambling on the success of a new console. This stark choice helped limit the game offerings Sega could muster. In 1989, Sega hit back with its Genesis console (known outside North America as the Mega Drive), the first true 16-bit console. The Genesis pushed the NEC TurboGrafx-16 into obscurity and quickly began eating into sales of Nintendo's original NES. Nintendo took two years to achieve parity on a technical level with the Genesis, via the 16-bit Super NES. Sega's blue-spiked mascot Sonic is a relative newcomer to the video-game scene (born in 1991). Though Sonic is a freedom-loving and independent super-hedgehog (faster than the speed of sound!) who can be counted on to come to the aid of his friends, he can be testy, and doesn't do well in water without a good running start.

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