How Safari Pretended to Be Mozilla Before It Was Released

by

NewImageFormer Apple employee Don Melton is sharing a unique look behind the scenes of the Safari development team. Melton was the team leader on both the Safari and WebKit products that are now used by millions of users on both iOS, the Mac, and Windows.

Previously, Melton explained how the Safari name came about, but today he shares the tale of Safari's User Agent string and the strategies his team used to keep the project under wraps.

Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist then. Nobody at Apple was stupid enough to blog about work, so what was I worried about?

Server logs. They scared the hell out of me.

When a Web browser fetches a page from a Web server, the browser identifies itself to that server with a user agent string — basically its name, version, platform, etc. The browser also gives the server an IP address so the server knows where to return the page. This exchange not only makes the Web work, it also allows the server to tell who is using what browser and where they’re using it.

You can see where this is going, right? But wait, there’s more…

Back around 1990, some forward-thinking IT person secured for Apple an entire Class A network of IP addresses. That’s right, Apple has 16,777,216 static IP addresses. And because all of these addresses belong together — in what’s now called a “/8 block” — every one of them starts with the same number. In Apple’s case, the number is 17.

IP address 17.149.160.49? That’s Apple. 17.1.2.3? Yes, Apple. 17.18.19.20? Also, Apple. 17.253.254.255? Apple, dammit!

I was so screwed.

Melton's blog has the rest of the details about how his team kept things quiet before the big reveal.

Top Rated Comments

iRCL Avatar
105 months ago
So, he hid Safari as being Mozilla, by changing the user agent string. MAN THIS IS ONE HELL OF A FASCINATING REVEAL

Also, Safari is the best browser out there now, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that there was nobody in the industry that cared when it was released except the Apple fans
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tobefirst Avatar
105 months ago
I like how the MR article mentions "Mozilla" nowhere except for the title. Reading the MR article itself doesn't tell you at all that they masked Safari as any Mozilla product. That's some quality writing right there!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TehFalcon Avatar
105 months ago
THIS is why I love Apple. Just a bunch of geeks running a company. Now I Cant say Mr. Cook is much of a geek. But the ones who do everything to run apple, are.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macrolido Avatar
105 months ago
It´s interesting the fact that he says Scott Forstall was a great boss.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
stevedun Avatar
105 months ago
Safari was a pain in the neck in it's early versions before becoming the gold standard in Mac web browsers. I've been a Safari advocate for years now.

Version 6, however, is infuriating. The reload-on-back behavior is unacceptable. I use the trackpad or Magic Mouse to swipe back a page, and the animation looks great, but the fact that it forces a reload of the page, delays me while it reloads, and often puts me at the top of the page is a real detractor. I'm trying to deal with it until something changes, but I may need to hop ship to an inferior browser if this basic functionality is not addressed.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rmwebs Avatar
105 months ago

It has been common knowledge that apple owns the 17 class A block since forever. This is not a new revelation for those of us who have been apple followers for 20+ years.


You need to learn what "common knowledge" means :rolleyes:
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored to Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring

Monday January 25, 2021 5:05 am PST by
The Apple Watch Series 7 will reportedly feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor, according to ETNews. The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels,...
magsafecasedangle

Apple Elaborates on Potential for iPhone 12 and MagSafe Accessories to Interfere With Implantable Medical Devices

Saturday January 23, 2021 2:42 pm PST by
Since the launch of iPhone 12 models in October, Apple has acknowledged that the devices may cause electromagnetic interference with medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators, but the company has now shared additional information. Apple added the following paragraph to a related support document today:Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain...
14

Apple Releases iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 With New Camera Warnings and Bug Fixes

Tuesday January 26, 2021 10:04 am PST by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.4, the fourth major updates to the iOS 14 operating system that was initially released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.4 come more than a month after the release of iOS and iPadOS 14.3, updates that brought new emojis, Intercom support, and more. The iOS and iPadOS 14.4 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible...
Top Stories 44 Feature

Top Stories: 'Thinner and Lighter' MacBook Air, Smaller iPhone 13 Notch, iOS 14.4 Incoming

Saturday January 23, 2021 6:00 am PST by
We continued to hear a lot more about Apple's plans for its Mac lineup this week, including word of a high-end redesigned MacBook Air and the return of an SD card slot as part of the upcoming MacBook Pro redesign. It also sounds like Apple has been working on Face ID for Mac, but it won't be appearing in a redesigned iMac this year as originally planned. This week also saw rumors about the...
14

Apple Releasing iOS 14.4 and watchOS 7.3 Later Today

Tuesday January 26, 2021 7:20 am PST by
In its Black History Month announcement this morning, Apple has confirmed that iOS 14.4 and watchOS 7.3 will be released later today. watchOS 7.3 expands the ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 and newer to Japan, Mayotte, Thailand, and the Philippines, while iOS 14.4 introduces a notification on iPhone 12 models with non-genuine cameras. Both software updates also add support for a new...
maxresdefault

Microsoft Touts Surface Pro 7 as 'The Better Choice' Over MacBook Pro in New Ad

Saturday January 23, 2021 11:02 am PST by
Microsoft yesterday shared a new ad on YouTube titled "Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Better Choice," in which the company compares its tablet computer to Apple's 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, as spotted by MSPoweruser. The ad highlights the Surface Pro 7's touchscreen and included stylus as opposed to only a "little bar" (the Touch Bar) on the MacBook Pro. Other advantages of the Surface Pro 7...
apple watch black unity

Apple Celebrates Black History Month With Limited-Edition Watch, Featured Apps and Books, and More

Tuesday January 26, 2021 6:14 am PST by
Apple today announced that it will be celebrating Black History Month with curated content that highlights and amplifies Black creators, artists, developers, and businesses across the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple TV app, Apple Books, Apple Podcasts, and more. The content will be featured throughout the month of February. Black Unity Sport Band has "Truth. Power. Solidarity." ...
7

Apple Releases watchOS 7.3 With Unity Watch Face, Expanded ECG Availability and More

Tuesday January 26, 2021 10:03 am PST by
Apple today released watchOS 7.3, the third major update to the watchOS 7 operating system that was released in September. watchOS 7.3 comes more than a month after watchOS 7.2, an update that brought support for Apple Fitness+ ‌‌The watchOS 7.3 update‌‌ can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update. To install...
time to walk apple watch

Apple Fitness+ Feature 'Time to Walk' Launching Soon With Audio Stories From Special Guests

Saturday January 23, 2021 7:13 pm PST by
Earlier this week, Apple seeded the watchOS 7.3 Release Candidate, which is typically the final beta version of a software update. The release notes for the update list a new "Time to Walk" feature for Apple Fitness+ subscribers, described as "an audio experience in the Workout app where guests share inspiring stories as you walk." Apple Fitness+ subscribers will be able to open the Workout...
apple dan riccio

Dan Riccio Transitioning to New Project, John Ternus to Lead Apple's Hardware Engineering Team

Monday January 25, 2021 2:05 pm PST by
Apple today announced that current Apple hardware engineering SVP Dan Riccio is transitioning to a new role where he will focus on an unspecified project, with John Ternus set to take over as Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering. In a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Riccio made Apple a better and more innovative company, and that Ternus will bring a deep expertise...