This is hailed as the birthday of Java. While it is a somewhat arbitrary date compared to some other milestones in its lifespan, it truly was Java’s coming out party.
While Andreessen was not available for comment on this story, many other folks were. We shall now dive into the history of the language, as told by those who created, used and love it.
The father figure
Gosling joined Sun in 1984. Prior to his time there, he’d written a multi-processor version of Unix, as well as a number of compilers. At Sun, he was pulled into the Green Team somewhere around 1991.
At the time, said Gosling, “One of the things that was really apparent is there were a lot of people outside the computer industry using digital systems inside their jobs. We looked at everything from control systems for elevators, to locomotives, home electronics, to early cell phones. They all had processors in them, but pretty much the whole computer industry was ignoring that, and they were largely ignoring the computer industry.
“We thought this was wrong, and somewhat weird. So we went off and spent some time studying the way that industry works. [We] went on a bunch of road trips to consumer electronics manufactures all over Europe and Asia. We came up with this sort of big feeling there was this collision that was just barely starting to happen.”
That collision is only just now finally happening, with PDAs and phones in everyone’s pockets, and the Internet of Things only just now coming online. Interestingly, Gosling said many of the electronics manufacture and design firms with which the Green Team came in contact were actually reinventing computer networking from the ground up.
That was just silly from the Green Team’s perspective: TCP/IP had long existed, and the state of the art was far from what these devices were using.
But the problem boiled down to one that Gosling summarized best: “One of the issues that came out really strongly, very early on, was that the way we addressed programming itself was causing cost issues with many of the devices. It was causing issues with the business plan for consumer electronics. My part of the project was to go off and think about the programming methodology around this type of highly networked system.”
Funny how a language that was designed for networked “things” grew up to be the language for networked applications. This foundation in the network, however, made Java the perfect language to handle the burgeoning field of distributed Internet applications.