Originally Posted by Old Pedant
Oh, yes, <!DOCTYPE html> was valid. But nobody back then used it. That's all I meant.
I was using doctypes with Netscape 4 - it has always made validating to the standards easier.
I do know that Netscape 2 didn't recognise doctypes and simply displayed it as part of the text of the page but it worked fine with Netscape 4 and I think even Netscape 3 would recognise it.
Doctypes weren't actually used for anything except validating against the standard until Microsoft needed a way to distinguish between pages written to follow the draft CSS2 standard that IE5 implemented and the somewhat different final standard. That's what happens when browsers try to implement proposed standards before they are finalised. It would be just as if a browser were to decide to implement HTML5 in 2015
(by which time HTML5 should be about as close to becoming a standard as CSS2 was when IE5 implemented it - and with about the same potential for changes).