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Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 3

The first commercial browser with support for CSS was Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 3. This browser was launched in August 1996, and back then the CSS1 specification was not yet a W3C recommendation. Internet Explorer 3 supported most of properties for color, background, text and font, but due to late changes in CSS1 this browser did not implement much of the CSS box model.

Netscape’s Navigator 4.0

Netscape had always been skeptical towards style sheets and reluctant to support them, but once Microsoft released Internet Explorer 3, Netscape’s Navigator 4.0 with CSS support followed in suit. It soon became clear that this was at best a rushed or halfhearted attempt to prevent Microsoft from putting the Explorer forward at more standards-compliant than Netscape’s Navigator. Although Navigator 4.0 did support a wide range of features, including floating elements, the developers had not been given sufficient time to test run all the features. As a result, Navigator 4 claimed to support many features that could in reality not be handled by the browser. The method for internal implementation chosen by Netscape was to translate CSS rule into snippets of Javascript and then run them along with other scripts.

Netscape Navigator 4 also had support for  JavaScrip Style Sheets (JSSS), a technology promoted by Netscape as an alternative to CSS. JSSS uses JavaScript code as a stylesheet and styles individual elements by modifying properties of the document tags object. Netscape submitted JSSS to W3C, but the W3C did not accept it as a formal standard and it was never implemented in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Netscape stopped promoting JSSS after the launch of Netscape Communicator in 1997. When Netscape 6 was released in 2000, it had no support for JSSS.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 4

In Internet Explorer 4, the old browser display engine was replaced with a module called Trident. A browser display engine does a lot of things and one of them is rendering CSS. The change to Trident removed a lot of the limitations known from Internet Explorer 3, but Trident simultaneously brought along its very own set of limitations – and bugs. Internet Explorer 4 did not have full support for CSS1, but it could display both static documents and handle dynamically changing stylistic properties.

Opera 3.5

Opera was the third browser to support CSS. Released in November 1998, Opera 3.5 was small enough to fit on a floppy disc yet included support for most features offered by significantly larger browsers such as Explorer and Netscape. Opera 3.5 supported most of CSS1, and the developers had made sure to test run the implementation before the browser was launched.