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Screenshot of the browser
Developer(s) Kim Nyberg, Teemu Rantanen, Kati Suominen, Kari Sydänmaanlakka[1]
Initial release 0.1 / 15 April 1992 (1992-04-15)
Final release 0.1 / 25 April 1994 (1994-04-25)
Written in C
Platform Unix (Sun-4,[2] NeXT/CubX,[2] DEC[2] Ultrix) using Motif[1]
Available in English
Type web browser
License Public Domain

Erwise is a discontinued pioneering web browser, and the first commonly available with a graphical user interface.[3][4]

Released in April 1992, the browser was written for Unix computers running X and used the W3 common access library.[5] Erwise was the combined master's project of four Finnish students at the Helsinki University of Technology:[6] Kim Nyberg, Teemu Rantanen, Kati Suominen and Kari Sydänmaanlakka.[1][2][7] The group decided to create a web browser at the suggestion of Robert Cailliau, who was visiting the university,[8] and were supervised by Ari Lemmke.

The development of Erwise halted after the students graduated and went on to other projects.[2] Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, travelled to Finland to encourage the group to continue with the project. However, none of the project members could afford to continue with the project without proper funding.[2]

The name Erwise originates from otherwise and the name of the project group, OHT.[8][9][10]


  • History 1
  • Characteristics 2
  • Criticism 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


  • Extremely pre-documented (in Finnish).[9]
  • Serious coding started around March 1992.[9]
  • Alpha release available by anonymous FTP from—binaries only (sun4 works, decstation too, display requires Motif) as of 15 April 1992.[9]
  • Source code released on www-talk August 92.[9]


The following are significant characteristics of the browser:

  • It used a multifont text.[2]
  • The links of Erwise browser were underlined. To visit the links you had to double click on the links.[2]
  • Erwise could execute multiple window operation, though the optional single window mode was also available.
  • Erwise could open local files.[2]
  • Erwise had little English documentation.
  • Some of the buttons were for features that were not implemented.
  • Tim Berners-Lee would have continued with the works of Erwise. He could not do so because Erwise was documented in the Finnish language.[3]


Erwise crashed on some versions of Unix, which Berners-Lee attributed to poor Motif implementations.[2][11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j  
  3. ^ a b Holwerda, Thom (3 March 2009). "The World's First Graphical Browser: Erwise".  
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Computing at CERN in the 1990s".  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ "The Greatest Internet Pioneers You Never Heard Of". Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  8. ^ a b Stewart, Bill. "Web Browser History". Living Internet. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Status of "Erwise" browser".  
  10. ^ "Helsingin Sanomat" (in Finnish). 10 February 2000. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  11. ^  


External links

  • The source code at FUNET FTP archives
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