Mozilla was the mascot of the now disbanded Netscape Communications Corporation and subsequently the Mozilla Foundation.
Mozilla took the form of a green and purple cartoon lizard. Programmer Jamie Zawinski came up with the name during a meeting while working at the company. Mozilla was designed by Dave Titus in 1994.
The name "Mozilla" was already in use at Netscape as the codename for Netscape Navigator 1.0. The name stood for "Mosaic killer", as the company's goal was to displace NCSA Mosaic as the world's number one web browser. Initially the mascot took various forms, including that of a helmeted astronaut or "spaceman", but the eventual choice of a Godzilla-like lizard which went well with the theme of crushing the competition, especially because of the similarity between the names.
Mozilla featured prominently on Netscape's web site in the company's early years. However, the need to project a more "professional" image (especially towards corporate clients) led to his being removed. Mozilla continued to be used inside Netscape, though, often featuring on T-shirts given to staff or on artwork adorning the walls of the Netscape campus in Mountain View.
The name "Mozilla" later became more prominent when it was used for the open source browser of the same name. With the launch of the mozilla.org web site in 1998, the mascot was redesigned as a larger, fiercer red Tyrannosaurus rex. The new design was by Shepard Fairey of "Obey Giant" and Barack Obama "Hope" poster fame.
When Netscape acquired the website directory NewHoo in 1998, they rebranded it the Open Directory Project with the nickname "DMOZ" (Directory of Mozilla) due to its similarity to the Mozilla project. A green and purple image of Mozilla was placed on every page of the site, which remains the case today, despite Netscape's disbanding after its acquisition by AOL.
The mascot has since been "retired from active duty", removed from official Mozilla branding and replaced by the current Mozilla wordmark, set in Meta Bold typeface.