From its earliest incarnation as a pared-down Netscape rewrite to its current browser share of nearly 30 percent, Firefox has come a long way. Today, it crossed another milestone: more than 1 billion downloads of the free, open source browser.
The recent release of Firefox 3.5 surely boosted the numbers, as more than 5 million downloaded the browser within the first week it was available, but 1 billion downloads is more an indication of a long-term movement than a sudden surge. Peering at StatCounter’s numbers, Firefox 2, 3, and 3.5 are carrying somewhere above 27.5 percent of net traffic through their windows, which says a lot for a browser that started out in November 2004 at, effectively, zero.
For a quick bit of nostalgia, here’s Lifehacker’s first Firefox-centered post (not that we aren’t still discovering neat little keyboard shortcuts). We’d also recommend running through Wikipedia’s History of Mozilla Firefox page, which shows off some smirk-inducing early designs and toolbar buttons.
Mozilla will soon launch an official page to commemorate 1 billion downloads, and has a place-holder at Spread Firefox. In the meantime, let’s hear your own early experiences with the browser in the comments.