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History of Java
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Around 1990 James Gosling , Bill Joy and others at Sun Microsystems began developing a language called Oak. The wanted it primarily to control microprocessors embedded in consumer items such as cable set-top boxes,VCR's, toasters, and also for personal data assistants (PDA).

To serve these goals, Oak needed to be:

    • Platform independent (since multiple manufacturers involved)
    • Extremely reliable
    • Compact.

However, as of 1993, interactive TV and PDA markets had failed to take off. Then the Internet and Web explosion began, so Sun shifted the target market to Internet applications and changed the name of the project to Java.

By 1994 Sun's HotJava browser appeared. Written in Java in only a few months, it illustrated the power of applets, programs that run within a browser, and also the capabilities of Java for speeding program development.

Riding along with the explosion of interest and publicity in the Internet, Java quickly received widespread recognition and expectations grew for it to become the dominant software for browser and consumer applications.

However, the early versions of Java did not possess the breadth and depth of capabilities needed for client (i.e. consumer) applications. For example, the graphics in Java 1.0 seemed crude and clumsy compared to mature software developed with C and other languages.

Applets became popular and remain common but don't dominate interactive or multimedia displays on web pages. Many other "plug-in" types of programs also run within the browser environment.

So Java has not succeeded at development of consumer applications. However, Java's capabilities grew with the release of new and expanded versions (see below) and it became a very popular language for development of enterprise, or middleware, applications such as on line web stores, transactions processing, database interfaces, and so forth.

Java has also become quite common on small platforms such as cell phones and PDAs. Java is now used in several hundred cell phone models. Over 600 million JavaCards, smart cards with additional features provided by Java, have been sold as of the summer of 2004.

Latest update: Oct.9.2004

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