The blink tag is finally dead, killed off by Firefox 23

Firefox 23 launched Tuesday and it has finally killed off the blink tag, an annoying staple of the Web's early days

When Mozilla released Firefox 23 on Tuesday, the updated browser put an unofficial end to one of the annoyances of the early Web: the "blink" tag.

According to the release notes for the new browser, Firefox 23 completely drops support for the "blink" element, preventing browsers from rendering text that, well, blinks.

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Some may consider the blink tag to be largely innocuous, a carryover from when sites like GeoCities ruled the Web. But others have claimed that the blinking text is actually harmful, including the U.S. government, which recommends that Web pages avoid blinking images at between 2 hertz and 55 hertz to avoid triggering epileptic seizures among users.

Lou Montulli, who contends that he is the inventor the blink tag, claimed that the whole thing was a "thought experiment." Montulli, who wrote the Lynx browser, went on to be one of the founding engineers at Netscape. Late one night at a bar, he and a few engineers figured out that Lynx could not display many of the HTML extensions they were proposing -- save for blinking text. "We had a pretty good laugh at the thought of blinking text, and talked about blinking this and that and how absurd the whole thing would be," Montulli wrote.

But what did Montulli find the next day? His PC, upon which the first blinking text was displayed. "It turns out that one of the engineers liked my idea so much that he left the bar sometime past midnight, returned to the office and implemented the blink tag overnight. He was still there in the morning and quite proud of it," Montulli wrote.

When Netscape Navigator was released, Montulli said, the "blink" functionality was hidden and kept quiet. But like all Easter eggs, it eventually leaked to the Web. "Large advertisements blinking in all their glory," Montulli wrote. "It was a lot like Las Vegas, except it was on my screen, with no way of turning it off."

The blink tag worked in much the same way as other HTML, with "open" and "closed" blink tags. Today, text can still be made to blink, but requires either the creation of an animated GIF image, or the use of JavaScript to make the text blink.

Besides putting an end to blinks, the latest version of the Firefox browser includes mixed-content blocking, a security feature designed to help secure the browser from man-in-the-middle attacks. Within the mobile version of Firefox 23, a new icon can add the current page to the Reading List, and a long tap in the address bar can auto-subscribe the browser to the page's RSS feed. Users can also specify a default search engine.

Users can download the new Firefox from the company's Web page.

This story, "The blink tag is finally dead, killed off by Firefox 23" was originally published by PCWorld .

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