The history of the Opera web browser began in 1994 when it was started as a research project at Telenor, the largest Norwegian telecommunications company. In 1995, the project branched out into a separate company named Opera Software ASA, with the first publicly available version released in 1996. Opera has undergone extensive changes and improvements, and introduced notable features such as Speed Dial.
Until version 2.0, the Opera browser was called MultiTorg Opera (version 1.0) and had only a limited internal release—although it was demonstrated publicly at the Third International WWW Conference in April 1995. It was known for its multiple document interface (MDI) and 'hotlist' (sidebar), which made browsing several pages at once much easier, as well as being the first browser to completely focus on adhering to the W3C standards.
In February 2013, Opera Software announced that their in-house rendering engine, Presto, would be phased out in favour of WebKit. Opera 15 saw the browser being fully rewritten, with this and subsequent releases being based on Blink and Chromium.
See also: Features of the Opera web browser
Version 2.0, the first public release of Opera, was released as shareware in 1996.
Due to popular demand, Opera Software showed interest in programming its browser for alternative operating systems such as Apple Macintosh, QNX and BeOS. On October 10, 1997, they launched "Project Magic", an effort to determine who would be willing to purchase a copy of their browser in their native OS, and to properly distribute funds to develop or outsource for such operating systems. On November 30, 1997 they closed voting for which operating system to develop with. Project Magic then became a news column for updates for alternative operating systems until version 4.
In 1998, Opera 3.5 was released, adding Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) support and file upload capability.
Version 3.6 was released on May 12, 1999. The 16-bit version of Opera for Windows 3.62 is the last version to support Windows 3.x. Further releases would require Windows 95.
On June 28, 2000, Opera 4 for Windows (Elektra) was released, introducing a new cross-platform core, and a new integrated email client.
Opera 5, released on December 6, 2000, was the first version which was ad-sponsored instead of having a trial period. Version 5 also supported ICQ, but this was dropped from later versions.
Opera supported OS/2 for the first time, requiring WarpIN and Odin to be installed.
Opera 5.10 (April 2001) was the first version to recognize mouse gestures, but this feature was disabled by default.
On November 29, 2001, Opera 6 was released with new features including Unicode support, and offering a single document interface as well as the multiple document interface allowed by previous versions.
On October 24, 2001, Microsoft blocked users of browsers other than Internet Explorer, including Opera, from accessing MSN.com. After accusations of monopolistic behavior, Microsoft lifted the restrictions two days later. However, as late as November 2001, Opera users were still locked out from some MSN.com content, despite Opera's ability to display the content had it been served.
On January 28, 2003, Opera 7 was released, introducing the new "Presto" layout engine, with improved CSS, client-side scripting, and Document Object Model (DOM) support. Mac OS 9 support was dropped.
Version 7.0 saw Opera undergo an extensive rewrite with the faster and more powerful Presto layout engine. The new engine brought almost full support for the HTML DOM meaning that parts of, or a whole, page can be re-rendered in response to DOM and script events.
A 2004 review in The Washington Post described Opera 7.5 as being excessively complex and difficult to use. The review also criticized the free edition's use of obtrusive advertisements when other browsers such as Mozilla and Safari were offered free of charge without including advertisements.
In August 2004, Opera 7.6 began limited alpha testing. It had more advanced standards support, and introduced voice support for Opera, as well as support for Voice XML. Opera also announced a new browser for Interactive Television, which included a fit to width option Opera 8 introduced. Fit to Width is a technology that initially utilized the power of CSS, but it is now internal Opera technology. Pages are dynamically resized by making images and/or text smaller, and even removing images with specific dimensions to make it fit on any screen width, improving the experience on smaller screens dramatically. Opera 7.6 was never officially released as a final version.
On January 12, 2005, Opera Software announced that it would offer free licenses to higher education institutions, a change from the previous cost of $1,000 USD for unlimited licenses. Schools that opted for the free license included Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, University of Oxford, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Duke University. Opera was commonly criticized for having been ad-sponsored, since this was seen as a barrier to gaining market share. In the newer versions the user was allowed a choice of generic graphical banners, or text-based targeted advertisements provided by Google based upon the page being viewed. Users could pay a license fee to remove the advertisement bar.
In 2003, MSN.com was configured to present Opera browsers with a style sheet used for old versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Other browsers received either a style sheet tailored to them, or at least the latest Internet Explorer style sheet. The outdated style sheet that Opera received caused Opera to move a significant amount of MSN.com's content 30 pixels to the left of where it should be, distorting the page and making it appear as though there was a bug in Opera.
In response, the Opera Software company created a special "Bork" edition of Opera which displayed gibberish instead of MSN.com but not on any other web site. They said they did this to make a point about the necessity of a harmonious relationship between web browsers and web sites.
After the complaints, Microsoft changed their servers to present the latest version of Opera, version 7, with the style sheet served to the latest version of Internet Explorer, which resolved the problem. However, Microsoft continued to serve the outdated style sheet to the older Opera 6.
Version 8.0 introduced support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.1 Tiny. This marked the first major web browser to natively support some form of SVG.
Version 8.5 was released on September 20, 2005. Opera announced that their browser would be available free of charge and without advertisements, although the company still continued to sell support contracts. Enhancements included automatic client-side fixing of web sites that did not render correctly, and a number of security fixes.
Version 9.0 was the first Microsoft Windows, Linux, and BSD browser to pass the Acid2 test. This version, released on June 20, 2006, added XSLT and improved SVG to 1.1 Basic level.
This was the first version to be on the Wii.
Opera introduced Widgets, small web applications, a built-in BitTorrent client, improved content blocking and a built-in tool for creating and editing search engines. Opera also added ability to read MHTML and to save the web page as archives.
Version 9.1 (released in 2006) introduced fraud protection using technology from GeoTrust, a digital certificate provider, and PhishTank, an organization that tracks known phishing web sites.
Version 9.2, codenamed Merlin, introduced Speed Dial, 3 × 3 small thumbnails which are shown instead of a blank page.
Version 9.5, codenamed Kestrel (after the Kestrel falcon), was released to span the gap between Opera 9.2 and Opera 10. It included some of the rendering improvements due to be made in Opera 10 and also aimed to provide better integration with various operating systems. The first alpha build of Opera 9.5 was released on September 4, 2007. The first public beta was released on October 25, 2007, and the final version was released on June 12, 2008. The final release was downloaded more than 4.5 million times in the first 5 days.
Opera 9.5 has improved support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), including many more CSS3 selectors and the CSS2
text-shadow property. Support for other web standards was also improved. For example, Opera 9.5's Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) implementation supports 93.8% of the W3C's SVG test suite, and built-in support for Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG) and MathML. Opera 9.5 also supports high-security Extended Validation Certificates and added malware protection through partnership with Haute Secure.
The interface underwent a few alterations as well, using "Sharp" by default, a new skin designed to be more intuitive, though the classic skin was still available as a user preference. Screen reader support has been added back in. Opera's mail client, Opera Mail, has been updated, with an improved indexing feature and many bugfixes. Opera 9.5 also lets users save bookmarks, notes, the Personal Bar and Speed Dial settings to the Opera Link service. These preferences can then be synchronized with another Opera browser, such as a copy of Opera Mini running on a mobile phone.
Alongside the new features, Opera 9.5 had new performance improvements. For example, x64-bit editions of Opera for compatible Linux and BSD operating systems. On the other hand, SPARC Linux support has been dropped.
Version 9.6 improved Opera Link with the new opportunity to sync custom search engines and typed history. Feed preview and an updated Opera Mail client were additional changes.
Version 10 (Peregrine) debuted in a first beta version on June 3, 2009 and scored 100/100 on the Acid3 test, but failed the smoothness criteria. There was also a preview build that scored 100/100, released on March 28, 2009. Among other features, it also came with speed optimizations, inline spell checking for forms, an auto update feature, HTML mail formatting, web fonts and SVG font support, alpha transparency support using the RGBA and HSLA color models, and an updated version of the Opera Dragonfly web debugger. Opera Turbo, a mode which uses Opera's servers as proxy servers with data compression, reducing volume of data transferred by up to 80% (depending upon content), and thus increasing speed, was introduced.
Opera 10 was officially released on September 1, 2009. Within a week of release, 10 million downloads had been recorded.
Opera 10.63 is the last version to support Windows 9x and Windows NT 4.0, as later releases would require at least Windows 2000.
Opera 11 (codenamed Kjevik) was released on December 16, 2010 with new features including extensions, tab stacking, visual mouse gestures, new installer (Windows only) and safety improvements to the address field. In addition, the content blocker list now can be synchronized through Opera Link. It also passes the Acid3 Test as of January 22, 2011.
On April 12, 2011, Opera 11.10 (codenamed Barracuda) was released. It contains many fixes "under the hood", such as improved Turbo Mode, a plug-in installation wizard and a rewritten Speed Dial. Opera 11.10 was updated to use the new Presto 2.8 Rendering Engine. 
On May 18, 2011, the final version of Opera 11.11 was released with improvements to security.
On June 28, 2011, Opera 11.50 (codename Swordfish) was released. Equipped with the rendering engine Presto 2.9.168 featuring up to 20% faster rendering of CSS and SVG, support for HTML5 tag <time>, Session History and Navigation, it also features extensions in the Speed Dial, support for password sync in Opera Link and an updated UI.
On December 6, 2011, Opera 11.60 (codename Tunny) was released. Updated with the newest rendering engine Presto 2.10.229, this update features several changes including a UI revamp of the email interface, a new address field with star feature, and several "under the hood" as new HTML5 tags and parsing implementations, full ECMAScript 5.1 support. This version also implemented the JSON API geo-location of Google.
On January 24, 2012, Opera 11.61 was released with improvements to security and stability.
On March 27, 2012, Opera 11.62 was released with security and stability improvements, bug fixes and performance improvements.
On April 17, 2012, Opera 11.63 was released. It was a Mac-exclusive release, contrary to belief that Apple had prematurely flipped the switch, making this release available for Mac users ahead of Windows and Linux customers.
On May 10, 2012, Opera 11.64 was released, with stability, bug fixes and security improvements
Opera released version 12 Pre-Alpha Build 1017 on June 7, 2011. Its code name was Wahoo. Opera 12 has hardware acceleration, support for WebGL and the new Opera Reader-feature.
On October 13, 2011, a version 12 Alpha build 1105 was released. Includes several speed and memory improvements, themes implementation, full hardware acceleration with WebGL, full ECMAScript 5.1 compliance, and a new HTML5 parser named Ragnarök.
On June 7, 2012, the RC1 version of Opera build 1448 was released. It offers native 64-bit support and out-of-process plug-ins.
On June 14, 2012, the final version of Opera 12.00 was released.
Opera 12.01, with some minor yet important security and stability upgrades, was released on August 2, 2012.
Opera 12.02 was released on August 30, 2012. It is the last version to support Windows 2000 but the succeeding versions would need at least Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
On November 5, 2012, Opera 12.10 was released with improvements, bugfixes and security updates.
On November 20, 2012, Opera 12.11 was released. This release was mainly a stability and security improvement over the previous version.
On December 17, 2012, Opera 12.12 was released. This release is a recommended security and stability update over the previous version. It is the last version to work on XP RTM & SP1, and Server 2003 RTM. The succeeding versions would need at least Windows XP SP2+, and Server 2003 SP1.
On January 30, 2013, Opera 12.13 was released as a recommended stability and security update. A week later, on February 5, 2013, Opera 12.14 was released after the users discovered an autoupdate crash loop bug.
On April 4, 2013, Opera 12.15 was released. This release is a recommended security and stability update over the previous version.
On July 4, 2013, Opera 12.16 was released. This release is a recommended security and stability update over the previous version.
On April 23, 2014, Opera 12.17 was released as a platform-specific security update for Windows to fix the Heartbleed bug in the installer and autoupdater of Opera. The browser itself is not threatened by Heartbleed.
On February 16, 2016, Opera 12.18 was released for the Windows platform. It adds support for elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) as well as Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) for encrypted connections to enable Opera 12 to connect to servers that don't allow other encryption modes anymore. In addition a security issue in the mail client was fixed.
|Operating system||Latest version||Year||Support Date||Engine|
|Windows||7 and later (IA-32,x64),
Server 2008 R2 and later (x64)
|XP SP2 & SP3,
Server 2003 SP1 & R2,
Vista and Server 2008
|XP RTM & SP1 and Server 2003 RTM||12.12||2012||2001-2012||Presto|
|9x and NT 4.0 (IA-32)||10.63||2010||1996-2010|
|3.x and NT 3.1-3.51 (IA-32)||3.62||2000||1996-2000||Elektra|
|macOS||10.13 and later (Intel)||92||2022||2017-||Blink|
|Unix-like||FreeBSD 7 and later,
DragonFlyBSD 2.0 and later (IA-32, x64)
|NetBSD 7.2 and Later (IA-32, x64)||12.16 (x64)
|Solaris 10 and later,
OpenSolaris (IA-32, x64, SPARC V9)
|Solaris 8-9 (IA-32, SPARC V9)||7.20[dead link]||2003||2000-2003|
|QNX (IA-32)||5.21 (stable)
|EPOC||R3 to R5||5.14||2003||N/A|
|OS/2 and eComStation||5.12||2001||2001|
|Operating System||Latest Version||Year||Support Status|
|5.0 and later||6.0 and later||65.0||71.2||2022||2022||2014-||2015-|
Opera Mobile Classic, formerly called Opera Mobile, is an edition of Opera designed for smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). The first version of Opera Mobile Classic was released in 2000 for the Psion Series 7 and NetBook, with a port to the Windows Mobile platform coming in 2004. One of Opera Mobile Classic's major features is the ability to dynamically reformat web pages to better fit the handheld's display using small screen rendering technology. Alternatively, the user may use page zooming for a closer or broader look. However, Opera Mobile's user interface has come under fire for being difficult to use or customize. Opera Mobile Classic was replaced by Opera browser for Android.
Internet Channel is a web browser for Nintendo's Wii gaming console made by Opera Software and Nintendo. Internet Channel was free to download from its release on 12 April 2007 until 30 June 2007. After that date, Wii users had to pay 500 Wii Points to download it. However, in late August / early September of the year 2009, the Internet Channel was once again available to download for free and those who paid for the service had their Wii Points returned in the form of a free NES Virtual Console game. Scott Hedrick, an executive of the Opera Software company, explained that the Wii browser was designed to suit a "living room environment". In contrast to Opera's appearance on computer monitors, fonts are larger and the interface is simplified for easier use. Notwithstanding the changes in design, the Wii browser supports the same web standards as the desktop version of Opera 9, including passing the Acid2 test.
Nintendo DS Browser is an edition of Opera for the Nintendo DS handheld gaming system. The Nintendo DS Browser was released in Japan on 24 July 2006, in Europe on 6 October 2006, and in North America on 4 June 2007.
The Nintendo DS Browser includes the same small screen rendering and page zooming technology present in Opera Mobile. It also includes handwriting recognition software and an on-screen keyboard to enable user input. Additionally, Nintendo partnered with Astaro Internet Security to provide web filtering for the Nintendo DS Browser. The technology is simply a professionally maintained proxy server that blocks web sites related to pornography, discrimination, security hacking, software piracy, violence, gambling, illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco, dating, weapons, abortion, and other content that Nintendo deems objectionable. Users can configure the Nintendo DS Browser to receive web pages through this proxy server, and this setting can be password-protected (by a parent, for example) to prevent circumvention. In August 2007, the Nintendo DS Browser was quietly discontinued in North America.