What's the entertainment power surge of the future? Depends on when you ask. Last year it was interactive TV; last summer, CD-ROMs; last month, over-the- modem services like America Online and CompuServe. As of this nanosecond, it's Mosaic's turn in the sun, and Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen are the Sun Kings.
What's Mosaic? It's a graphical browser onto the World Wide Web. Translated into English, that means you don't have to be a computer weenie to navigate the Internet. You merely click on a highlighted word or icon on screen to see photos or video, hear music, or whisk yourself to another place on the planet.
Andreessen, 23, was the college kid who cocreated Mosaic and put it on the Net for free. Clark, 50, is the businessman who founded the Fortune 500 company Silicon Graphics, which designed the workstations that created F/X for Jurassic Park and Terminator 2, and left to find the next big thing. He figures it's a commercial version of Mosaic, and he hired Andreessen and his U. of Illinois pals to pull it off. An early edition of their Mosaic Netscape debuted on the Internet Oct. 12. Licensed versions will cost $99. There are about 25 million Internet users. You do the math.
Mosaic is really just a raft for riding the data flow, but it may let people and businesses deliver their goods over phone wires. Will we be pulling movies off the Net in 2001, with Mosaic as our guide? Looks that way ... for the next month, anyway.