Learn About the Early History of the Java Programming Language

All web pages were static when the World Wide Web was first created in the early 1990s. You saw exactly what the page was set up to show you, and there was no way for you to interact with it.

Being able to interact with a web page to have it do something in response to your actions required the addition of some form of programming language to "instruct" the page how it should respond. In order to have it respond immediately without having to reload the web page, this language needed to be able to run on the same computer as the browser displaying the page.

LiveScript Turned Into JavaScript

At the time, there were two browsers that were reasonably popular: Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer.

Netscape was the first to bring out a programming language that would allow web pages to become interactive - it was called LiveScript and was integrated into the browser. This means the browser would interpret the commands directly without requiring the code to be compiled and without the need of a plugin. Anyone using Netscape could interact with pages that made use of this language.

Another programming language called Java (which did require a separate plugin) became very well known, so Netscape decided to try cashing in on this by renaming the language built into their browser to JavaScript.

Note: While some Java and JavaScript code may appear similar, they are in fact two entirely different languages that serve completely different purposes.

ECMA Takes Control of JavaScript

Not to be left behind, Internet Explorer was soon updated to support not one but two integrated languages. One was called vbscript and was based on the BASIC programming language; the other, Jscript, was very similar to JavaScript. In fact, if you were very careful what commands you used, you could write code be processed as JavaScript by Netscape Navigator and as Jscript by Internet Explorer.

Netscape Navigator was by far the more popular browser at the time, so later versions of Internet Explorer implemented versions of Jscript that were more and more like JavaScript. By the time Internet Explorer became the dominant browser, JavaScript had become the accepted standard for writing interactive processing to be run in the web browser.

The importance of this scripting language was too great to leave its future development in the hands of the competing browser developers. So, in 1996, JavaScript was handed over to an international standards body called Ecma International (European Computer Manufacturers Association), who then became responsible for the subsequent development of the language.

As a result, the language was officially renamed ECMAScript or ECMA-262, but most people still refer to it as JavaScript.

More Facts About JavaScript

The JavaScript programming language was designed by Brendan Eich in just 10 days, and developed by Netscape Communications Corporation (where he was working at the time), Mozilla Foundation (which Eich co-founded), and Ecma International.

Eich completed the first version of JavaScript in less than two weeks because he needed it to be finished before the release of the beta version of Navigator 2.0.

JavaScript was named Mocha at its inception, before being renamed to LiveScript in September 1995, and then JavaScript in the same month. However, it was called SpiderMonkey when being used with Navigator.