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Screenshot of the browser

Erwise was a pioneering web browser, and the first with a graphical user interface.[1]

Released in April 1992, the browser was written for Unix computers running X and used the W3 common access library.[2], and was the combined master's project of four Finnish students at the Helsinki University of Technology; Kim Nyberg, Teemu Rantanen, Kati Suominen and Kari Sydänmaanlakka.[3][4] The group decided to create a web browser at the suggestion of Robert Cailliau, who was visiting the university,[5] and were supervised by Ari Lemmke.

The development of Erwise froze after the students graduated and went on to other projects. 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.

The name Erwise originates from otherwise and the name of the project group, OHT, which is short for ohjelmatyöryhmä (program working group).[6]



The following are significant characteristics of the browser:

  • It used a multifont text
  • The links of Erwise browser were underlined. To visit the links you had to double click on the links.
  • Erwise could execute multiple window operation, though the optional single window mode was also available.
  • Erwise was featured by opening local files
  • Erwise was supported by no documentation
  • It apparently crashed on some displays. Erwise worked with display on Sun4, NeXT/Cub X, and crashed displaying on DECstation.
  • Many of the buttons existed but actually would not work.
  • Finally the project of Erwise never made it because of certain subjective hindrances like lack of funds followed by the abandonment of the project by the Finnish students. Tim Berners-Lee of World Wide Web would have continued with the works of Erwise. He could not do so because Erwise was so far written in Finnish language.[7]

See also

  • ViolaWWW - the second graphical browser, released just a month later



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