Firefox is probably the most popular project of Mozilla and it is surprising that it started out as an experiment of the Mozilla group. It was begun by Blake Ross and Dave Hyatt as a part of the original Mozilla project. Their main aim was to create a browser that was not only free for all but also offered all the latest services such as secure browsing, compatibility with the latest networking standards, etc. Slowly but steadily, Firefox gained a lot of popularity but only after its 5th or 6th release did it make a mark and become one of the more advanced browsers of modern day.
The Name Dilemma:
Incidentally, Firefox was not among the first choice of names for the browser that we are all aware of today. It was initially named as Phoenix after a series of tests, and the binaries were also tested on a public platform. But the name Phoenix met with controversy as it was already taken up by another company. Then, the name was changed to Firebird but not many people were pleased with that .
Also, there was a database server by the name Firebird already in existence. Owing to this reason, the project was finally named as Mozilla Firefox on the 9th of February 2004. To ensure that no other controversies were created, Mozilla group proceeded to register the name Firefox and this was one of the reasons why the release of 1.0 version was delayed.
The first finalized version of Firefox was called version 1.0 and was released on November 9, 2004. To ensure that it got the required attention, the Mozilla group organized an extensive ad campaign and even rented a full page ad on the New York Times. Although Firefox 1.0 was not a very big hit, the browser had its takers in both the home and corporate user communities.
Rapid Release Cycle:
After the 2.0 and 3.0 versions of Firefox were released, the team found some rhythm to their update cycle and a rapid release cycle was established. Once in six weeks, every Tuesday, the Firefox team would release a new version of the browser or an update to the existing version.
The latest version of the browser, Firefox 15, was released on the 28th of August, 2012. Going by the cycle, we can expect the 16th version and the 17th version to be released on October 9th and November 20th respectively. The latest version of Firefox has all the necessary advancements to compete with the big names in the browser market.