File Under: Software & Tools

Happy Birthday Opera: The Innovative Web Browser Turns 15

Opera is celebrating 15 years of web browsing — Opera began life in April 1994 when Jon von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsoy wrote the first lines of code that would eventually to become the Opera browser. Originally written for Sun OS, Opera is now available on nearly every platform known to man, including most PC desktops, mobile devices and even the Wii.

Opera’s market share among desktop browsers isn’t the biggest — between 2 and 4 percent, about the same as the much younger Google Chrome — but the browser is living proof that market share isn’t best indicator of influence. Considering what Opera has contributed to the web in the last fifteen years, we we’re excited to see not only what the browser can do in the next fifteen, but how it’s innovations will impact the larger web.

The Opera browser can take credit for pioneering much of what we today consider must-haves in a browser including features like tabs, mouse gestures, SVG graphics and support for the latest web standards. Opera also popularized the idea of showing page thumbnails when you open a new window or tab (a feature known as “speed dial”), which Safari and Firefox have since copied.

To this day the Opera browser continues to innovate the web experience, offering loads of features not found in other browsers, including the ability to take notes on a web page, seamless sync bookmarks across all platforms and Opera Turbo, which compresses webpages to give broadband-like speeds on almost any Internet connection

One of the standout features of Opera has been its aggressive support of emerging web standards. Not only is Opera a leader in CSS support, it was one of the first to embrace experimental HTML 5 features like the <audio> and <video> embed tags and the Canvas element. Opera was also one of the first browsers to pass both the ACID 2 and ACID 3 page rendering tests.

For more on the history of Opera have a look at Opera Software CTO, Hkon Wium Lie’s reflections. Opera CEO, Jon von Tetzchner, also offers his own thoughts on 15 years of Opera, and don’t miss the condensed history of Opera in cartoon form.

See Also: