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Hello Java

The Java Story

ICSE Computer Applications

In this lesson, we will take a quick look at history of Java. Let’s start the Java story.

Green team formed

In the year 1991, Sun Microsystems put together a small team of its top engineering minds to explore opportunities in consumer electronics. This team comprised of James Gosling, Patrick Naughton, Mike Sheridan and was called the Green Team. By that time, Sun was already leading the workstation computer market. By the way, a workstation is a computer with a faster processor and much more RAM compared to a personal computer. They are used as server machines enabling multiple users to login into the system at the same time. Coming back to 1991, Consumer electronics was the new hot upcoming big market at that time and Sun wanted to make some early in roads into that market. Green team was tasked to develop a technology that will enable Sun to dominate the consumer electronics space.

Oak is invented

James Gosling

Led by James Gosling whose picture is shown above, in the next 18 months this team worked tirelessly to create a new programming language which they called “Oak”. This was later renamed to “Java” in 1995. The name was changed because a different programming language with the name “Oak” already existed. To avoid a name conflict, the language was renamed to Java after coffee cultivating island of Java in Indonesia.

Ahead of its time

Originally Java was created for writing software to be embedded in various consumer electronic devices like microwave ovens, remote controls, set-top box for TVs, etc. Different manufacturers were using different processors as controllers for these devices. Software for such devices needed additional work for each manufacturer to properly compile and run on the specific manufacturer’s device. Java aimed to address this pain point and promised a Write Once, Run Anywhere (WORA) solution. Software written in Java is platform independent and can be run on any device without any additional work. Despite all this, it didn’t get much love from the consumer electronic space. Throughout 1993, the team tried very hard but couldn’t find any customers for their new technology. Probably, it was too advanced and ahead of its time for the consumer electronics and interactive television industry.

World Wide Web

About the same time a second and ultimately more important factor was emerging that would play a crucial role in the future of Java. It was the World Wide Web more commonly known as the Internet. Internet is made up of numerous computer systems differing in their CPUs and operating systems connected in a network of interacting machines. To evolve as a highly interactive medium, Internet needed lots of portable software which can be downloaded from the server and run on user’s computer without the need for any additional changes. The team refocussed Java to Internet programming on the World Wide Web.

First public release

On 23rd of May 1995, Sun microsystems made the first public release of Java. With the explosion of World Wide Web, Java found huge success and became one of the dominant technologies of the Internet. So thats a quick look at the Java story, starting from its humble beginnings to the juggernaut it has become today.