History and development

Around 1992, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy were part of a research group at Televerket (the Norwegian state phone company now called Telenor). The group took part in developing ODA, a standards based system for storage and retrieval of documents, images and other content. The ODA system never got any wide-spread usage despite its effectiveness and has since died. The research group also established the first Norwegian Internet server and 'home-page' in 1993, but they felt the current Mosaic browser had a too 'flat' structure for it to be used effectively in browsing the web. In the light of this, the group took interest in building a new document browser from scratch. Inspired by the ODA project, they saw potential in building a browser better adapted to the many-faceted structure of the web. The mother company Televerket gave the group a green light, and by late 1993 the first prototype was up and running. Televerket faced a challenge though: The telemarket was destined for full deregulation in 1998 which meant they would have to prepare for competition. They were not sure if this browser program would fit in with their core business. In 1994 Televerket became a state-owned stock company, and J. S. von Tetzchner and G. Ivarsøy were allowed to continue development on their own in the offices of Televerket. By the end of 1995 Televerket was renamed Telenor, and the company Opera Software was created, still in the same offices. Their product was initially known as MultiTorg Opera and was quickly recognized by the Internet community for its multiple document interface (MDI) and its 'hotlist' (sidebar) which made browsing several pages at once much easier.

In January 2003, Opera 7 was released and introduced a new layout engine "Presto". This had greatly improved CSS, scripting, and DOM support.

In August 2004, Opera 7.6 began limited alpha testing. It had more advanced standards support, and introduced voice support for Opera, as well as support for Voice XML. Opera also announced a new browser for iTV, which included the fit to width option Opera 8 introduced. Fit to Width is a proprietary technology which combines the power of CSS with internal Opera technology. Pages are dynamically resized by making images and/or text smaller, and even removing images with specific dimensions to make it fit on any screen width, improving the experience on smaller screens dramatically. Opera 7.6 was never officially released as a final version.

On April 19, 2005, version 8.0 was released. Besides supporting SVG Tiny, multimodal features and User JavaScript [1], the default user interface has been cleaned up and simplified. The default home page is an improved search portal [2]. This suggests that the browser is marketed more toward general users, rather than just power users. This, however, is not welcomed by some of the existing users, as some advanced settings are now hidden [3]. On July 6, 2005, Opera 8.02 technology preview included for the first time a simple BitTorrent client [4], but Opera 8.02 does not include support for the BitTorrent [5].


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