Spyglass

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Note: This article is about Spyglass, Inc. However, spyglass also means a telescope or set of lenses used to observe subjects at distance.

Spyglass, Inc., was an internet software company (NASDAQ SPYG) based in Champaign, Illinois. The company founded in 1990, was an offshoot of the University of Illinois and created to commercialize and support technologies from National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Prominent among these was the Mosaic browser, of which Spyglass licensed the technology and trademarks to develop their own Web browser. The source code of Spyglass Mosaic was licensed to Microsoft for Internet Explorer to be built upon.

After first trying to license/buyout Netscape MS then tried to negotiate directly with NCSA and finally went to Spyglass. The deal signed was for royalties paid on each copy sold and was extended to Dec 1998. Meanwhile MS got a looksee at the Source code and the next version of Internet Explorer was not covered by the agreement. A legal shuffle that Gates father would have been proud of. Spyglass went broke trying to get back what was rightfully theirs. Meanwhile Microsoft Internet Explorer has gone from strength to strength.

1994 Fall : Gates demonstrates Internet Assistant from Booklink Technologies

1994 Fall: Ms tried to license Netscape

1995 Jan: Ms signs deal with Spyglass after failing to get a license from the NCSA.

1998 Dec: Agreement with Spyglass ended.

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The Browser Wars

Netscape Communications Corporation, co-founded by Marc Andreessen, released its flagship Netscape Navigator browser in October 1994, and it took off the next year. Microsoft saw the success of Netscape and recognized the potential of the web. In 1995, Microsoft licensed Mosaic from Spyglass as the basis of Internet Explorer 1.0 which it released as an add-on to Windows 95 in the Microsoft Plus! software package.

The arrangement for the licence was that Spyglass would receive a quarterly fee plus a percentage of Microsoft's revenues for the software. Microsoft subsequently bundled Internet Explorer with Windows, and thus (making no direct revenues on IE) paid only the minimum quarterly fee. In 1997, Spyglass threatened Microsoft with a contractual audit, in response to which Microsoft settled for US $8 million. [1] (http://www.winnetmag.com/Article/ArticleID/16683/16683.html)

All versions of the Internet Explorer software acknowledge Spyglass as the licensor for the IE browser code: "Distributed under a licensing agreement with Spyglass, Inc."

The end of Spyglass

On March 26, 2000, OpenTV bought out Spyglass in a stock swap worth $2.5 billion. The acquisition was completed on July 24, 2000. In the deal, they received both Device Mosaic, an embedded web browser, and Prism, a content delivery and transformation system.

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