Code Rush, the Mozilla Documentary from 2000

In honor of the release of Firefox 3.0, I’m offering up a video that documented its very beginning in 1998 — the first open-source release of Netscape’s browser and the foundation of the Mozilla project.

Independent filmmakers followed the Mozilla team from March 1998 to April 1999, as they worked to open Netscape Communicator’s source code to the world, in a last-ditch effort to save the company. The result is an amazing snapshot of computer history, capturing the people that worked on it, the first internal beta test, the moment Jamie Zawinski uploaded the first builds publicly, the launch party, the all-hands meeting announcing the AOL acquisition, and so much more. It aired on PBS nationally in March 2000, the same month as the beginning of the dot-com collapse.

Out-of-print and never released on DVD, the used VHS copies start at $50 on Amazon. Like all the videos I release on, this material is commercially unavailable. If they ever come back into print, or the copyright holders contact me, I’ll take them down immediately.

Important Update (September 16): At the request of the the director, I’ve removed the video from and Viddler. I’ve interviewed the director about his plans for releasing the film and the unreleased footage.

Update (July 31): The documentary is back online, legally released under a Creative Commons license.

I’ve done my best to annotate the video, but many people in the film aren’t identified. I’ve left Viddler annotations open to everyone, so if you want to identify the people, places, or notable objects/events/trivia in the film, then please add your inline comments the video! (Or IM/email me and I’ll take care of it.)

The video’s now offline, but I’ve saved all the annotations. Thanks to Tman for creating the subtitle file, which can be used in video players like Media Player Classic or VLC, or simply viewed as plain text.

Now go download Firefox 3.0 and help make history!

Interviews and Appearances


    I’ve got this on VHS at home and watched it in total fanboy glee back when it came out. Now I’m sitting in Mountain View as a MoCo employee watching the download counter on the big screen for Firefox 3. I’m finding it hard to express the feeling without resorting to profanity.

    I sure hope no one makes you un-share this.

    Man, I remember watching this when it aired on PBS… Good times.

    I love that most of the people in there have a live web presence. I suspect that’ll be the norm for most people moving forward rather than the exception.

    Did I mention you are awesome? Today? This doco holds a special place in my heart. Thank you.

    This is both excellent and timely. Thanks for taking the time to encode and annotate, yet again.

    This makes me want to build something. Wait, I am helping to build something. This makes me want to get back to work.

    Awesome Andy, thanks for this – watched it on the train this morning, felt like I was in a time-warp. It’s hard to believe how much has changed, and that it’s been ten years since then already.

    Andy I thank you so much for this.

    Obviously a very timely release date.

    Ever since I watched Mike Pinkerton’s (of Camino fame) Google Talk about his time at Mozilla, I wanted to get hold of Code Rush but couldn’t. For everybody else who enjoyed Code Rush, that Google Video might be an interesting sequel.

    Is there any way to get a text dump of the viddler comments? I’m torrenting the file but I want to get all the ‘behind the scenes’ info as well. A dump with time signatures and such would be all I would need to follow along manually.

    Just curious: some of the video comments were helpful, but a lot of them were redundant. Literally, the information would be on the screen, being told to us, and then a viddler comment would pop up of the exact same thing (ie someone’s name and affiliation). What exactly was your reason for doing this?

    I add annotations for all speakers and sections, even if they’re identified on-screen, so that people can seek directly to those parts of the video. It’s just metadata.

    I had kept this on my to-do list for the last few days and finally had time to watch it. This is just an amazing piece of documentary. Thanks for sharing !

    I’m much too young to have been around for this (23 now), but that sure explains a lot. Thanks for posting!

    And heh, kinda funny to think that I watched that video and posted this comment via FF3. Space time should fold into itself or something.

    I’ve been wanting to see this for ages, but could never find it.

    Many thanks.

    “we had to do one small adjustment, and it worked!” (right before the 20-minute mark)

    That’s Don Melton, aka gramps, who later worked at Eazel (on Nautilus), and now Apple (on Safari/Webkit). He appears elsewhere in the video with crazy hair and a hockey stick.

    The guy speaking about Tara being the best manager at Netscape at her leaving party (45:00) is Chris Hofmann (still at Mozilla today).

    Oh bummer i really wanted to watch this documentary …. its offline now! … can i have another link where i could download it from ?


    Oh man, I was too late, that documentary will never get re-released, so has anybody got a link to it?

    Hello, I saw Code Rush and enjoyed it very much. Good software can always be written in America! Very good documentary, thanks!

    Hi all, I came across this story the other day: “The copyright to the film is now available under CC vers. 3 for interested viewers to download and use.”

    I downloaded the whole movie and liked it loads. Go get it (–it’s an inspiring piece of history now available to the public to have!

Comments are closed.