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There were two stylistically opposed approaches to web design, epitomized by two distinct — and utterly different — technologies, both of which debuted in 1996. The first, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), represented structure. Design elements were to be encoded in a new language, CSS, as defined in a W3C web standards specification. The over-riding principle was separation of content and presentation, with content marked up in HTML and presentation in CSS. At the other end of the web design spectrum was the animation tool Flash, in which presentation and content were mashed together in one file.

Read More 1996: Flash and CSS Bring Design to the Web

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In March 1996, at Microsoft’s annual Professional Developers Conference (PDC), Bill Gates announced a set of internet technologies called ActiveX. “Part of the unique thing that Microsoft is doing,” he said regarding Microsoft’s approach to the Internet, “[…] is a strong level of integration into Windows.” It was the moment Netscape, Sun Microsystems, and other web-focused companies had feared — Microsoft was embedding the Internet into its powerful Windows ecosystem.

Read More 1996: Microsoft Activates the Internet With ActiveX & JScript

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For all of the technical wizardry in Netscape Navigator 2.0, when it was first released JavaScript was put to use in fairly trivial ways — scrolling text, silly animations, tricks with colors (fading, rainbow effects, and so on). Inventor Brendan Eich called these initial use cases “annoyances.” But there was also an underlying power, especially with the beginnings of the DOM.

Read More 1996: JavaScript Annoyances and Meeting the DOM