Which Browser Invented Tabs? 3 Common Myths Debunked

Joel Lee 19-10-2015

It’s hard to imagine the Internet without tabbed browsing. Despite the fact that tab abuse can slow down your browser What Can You Do To Speed Up Your Browser? If you’re like me and you spend a huge portion of your day browsing the web then you understand how frustrating it is to have a slow, bloated browser that seems to be on its... Read More , it’s one of those “once you start, you can’t go back” features, and a modern browser without tabs would surely die overnight.


So which browser can we thank for pioneering tabs?

A lot of people think that Mozilla Firefox (then known as Firebird) was the first to introduce them — and while it’s true that Firefox definitely popularized the concept, it can’t take credit as innovator. Opera also helped to promote tabs in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t the first either.


The glory belongs to InternetWorks by BookLink Technologies, an old-time browser from the early 1990s that you’ve probably never heard of. BookLink’s technology was later licensed by Microsoft to bring Internet capabilities to Word, but otherwise, the company hasn’t done much else to be noteworthy.

There are two more common myths that people wrongly believe — first, that Chrome invented browser extensions, and second, that Chrome invented private browsing mode. Neither of these are true.



In fact, browser extensions predate even tabbed browsing! Microsoft introduced extensions with Internet Explorer 5 in 1999. They weren’t as useful or productive as modern extensions The Best Chrome Extensions A list of only the best extensions for Google Chrome, including suggestions from our readers. Read More , but the ability to add new functionality and enhance the interface was an ahead-of-its-time move by Microsoft.

And three years before Google popularized private browsing with Incognito Mode, Safari already had a feature for temporary suspension of cookies and cache. So if you want to thank someone for the many uses of private browsing mode 4 Uses for Browsing in Privacy Mode (That Isn't Porn) Read More , let that someone be Safari, not Chrome.

Got any interesting browser facts of your own? Share them with us in the comments!

Image Credits: Chrome In Browser by Evan Lorne via Shutterstock, Search Bar by kpatyhka via Shutterstock

Related topics: Browser Extensions, Debunking Myths, History.

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  1. sdsdfsd
    June 28, 2016 at 12:33 am

    tabs are the worst thing that has happened to the web browsers
    I already have taskbar, why will need second one
    and it is sad that currently there is no major browser which supports tabless browsing

    • Joel Lee
      July 4, 2016 at 2:00 am

      Haha, I've met very few people who'd agree. What browser do you use, if you don't mind me asking?

    • lordmogul
      August 8, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      And how do you manage all of your open browser windows?
      I have more than 60 tabs pinned and regularely reach over 200 open in total.
      Impossible to organize without tabs.

  2. Anonymous
    October 19, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Back in 2003 I used Slimbrowser. Never seen tabs before that

    • Joel Lee
      October 22, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      Wow, Slimbrowser is that old? Never knew!

  3. Anonymous
    October 19, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    AJAX, first created by Microsoft of all companies, for use in their Outlook Web App back in the '90s. Only problem is, MS didn't think it would take off so they eventually changed how OWA worked.

    Amazing how many people I talk to think that AJAX came about in the 2000s...

    • Joel Lee
      October 22, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      It's funny how Microsoft laid the foundations for a lot of modern tech, but they never get the proper credit for it. I didn't realize AJAX existed back in the 1990s. That's crazy!

  4. Anonymous
    October 19, 2015 at 11:38 am

    The first time I used tabs was in Opera, back when it had a banner ad at the top of the interface. Old times.

    • Joel Lee
      October 22, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      Oh yes, I remember back when Opera had a banner! Except it was my friend who used it, and I thought he was crazy. Then again, we were just kids, so neither of us knew what we were doing. :P

  5. Anonymous
    October 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I remember netcaptor.

    • Joel Lee
      October 22, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Ah, NetCaptor! Thanks for that bit of nostalgia. :)