What company invented the computer cookie?

Written by troy dooly
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What company invented the computer cookie?
(Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

The conspiracy theory behind most computer issues is that some company had something to do with it. However, the facts show that whether good or bad, everything that involves a computer is invented by an individual or team of individuals, most of the time while working on something else. In the case of computer cookies, it was one man who invented what has become the best friend to everyone from legitimate marketers to the most notorious cybercriminals in the world.

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What is a computer cookie?

Computer cookies--also called tracking cookies, adware, spyware, browser cookies and tracking cookies, just to name a few--are used to tag specific identifiers of individual computer users. The most common computer cookie is known as a session cookie and is used to keep track of individuals on secured sites, like banking sites, investment sites, shopping sites and every scam site ever created. Cybercriminals use computer cookies as spyware, stealing personal information from computer users.

What company invented the computer cookie?
Inventing the computer cookie (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Blake Patterson)

Why was the computer cookie invented?

It was Lou Montulli, while working for Netscape back in 1994, who took a concept used on the Unix platform called "magic cookie," and decided it could be used in communicating between an individual computer and a secured site, specifically an online shopping trolley. Therefore, it could be said that Netscape is the reason computer cookies are around today. However, it is Lou Montulli and his partner John Giannandrea who wrote the original Netscape cookie specification, code-named Version 0.9beta.

What company invented the computer cookie?
Implementing the first computer cookie. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Juan Pablo Olmo)

Who is Louis J. Montulli II?

Lou Montulli first came on the computer scene back in 1992 while at the University of Kansas, when he and two of his buddies, Michael Grobe and Charles Rezac, invented one of the first Internet browsers--Lynx, which is still used today by the vision-impaired. In 1994, he invented the computer cookie for Netscape. He is also credited for launching the second life cam on the Internet, called "The Amazing Fish Cam."

Who is John Giannandrea?

John was the Chief Technologist in the Internet Browser group at Netscape in 1994, when Lou Montulli came to him with the answer to their client's dilemma. Since then, John has created the world's largest VoiceXML database, and has been instrumental in the development of some of the most recognised technology platforms, such as Java, HTML, HTTP and SSL. John Giannandrea is co-founder and CTO of Metaweb Technologies, where he is focused on creating the world's largest open database of information.

What company invented the computer cookie?
John Giannandrea computer expert library. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Niels Heidenreich)

The computer cookie today

Although the computer cookie is still used as it was intended (known as a session cookie), it has become more identified as an adware or spyware tool. As the popularity of the Internet increased starting in the late 1990s, cybercriminals and marketers alike learnt how to take the original computer cookie and recreate it to use for tracking the Internet movement of individual computer users, in some cases to steal personal information right off of the user's computer.

What company invented the computer cookie?
Cybercriminals use computer cookies for identity theft. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of mikael altemark)

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