by Dinesh Thakur

History of Java: At first glance, it may appear that Java was developed specifically for the World Wide Web. However, interestingly enough, Java was developed independently of the web, and went through several stages of metamorphosis before reaching its current status of programming language for the World Wide Web. Below is a brief history of Java.

Oak: According to Java FAQ, Bill Joy, currently a vice president at Sun Microsystems, is widely believed to have been the person to conceive of the idea of a programming language that later became Java. In late 1970's, Joy wanted to design a language that combined the best features of MESA and C.

In an attempt to re-write the UNIX operating system in 1980's, Joy decided that C++ was inadequate for the job. A better tool was needed to write short and effective programs. It was this desire to invent a better programming tool that swayed Joy, in 1991, in the direction of Sun's "Stealth Project" - as named by Scott McNealy, Sun's president.

In January of 1991, Bill Joy, James Gosling, Mike Sheradin, Patrick Naughton (formerly the project leader of Sun's Open Windows user environment), and several other individuals met in Aspen, Colorado for the first time to discuss the ideas for the Stealth Project. The goal of the Stealth Project was to do research in the area of application of computers in the consumer electronics market. The project was also named "Green" and it was started to make microprocessors run on different machines (i.e. different platforms). Firsly, it was called "Greentalk" by james Gosling and file extenstion was .gt.

Initially, they started to develop the project in C++, but they faced many problems as they tried to extend the C++ compiler. During that time, James Gosling started working on a new language called Oak which was later in 1995 renamed as Java. Why Oak? Oak is a symbol of strength and choosen as a national tree of many countries like U.S.A, Germany etc.

The vision of the project was to develop "smart" consumer electronic devices that could all be centrally controlled and programmed from a handheld-remote control- like device. According to Gosling, "the goal was ... to build a system that would let us do a large, distributed, heterogeneous network of consumer electronic devices all talking to each other." With this goal in mind, the stealth group began work.

There were several criteria that Oak had to meet in order to satisfy the project objective given the consumer electronics target market. Given the wide array of manufacturers in the market, Oak would have to be completely platform independent, and function seamlessly regardless of the type of CPU in the device.

For this reason, Oak was designed to be an interpreted language, since it would be practically impossible for a complied version to run on all available platforms. To facilitate the job of the interpreter, Oak was to be converted to an intermediate "byte-code" format which is then passed around across the network, and executed/interpreted dynamically.

Today, with technology such a part of our daily lives, we take it for granted that we can be connected and access applications and content anywhere, anytime. Because of Java, we expect digital devices to be smarter, more functional and more entertaining.

In the early 90s, extending the power of network computing to the activities of everyday life was a radical vision. In 1991, a small group of Sun engineers called the Green Team believed that the next wave in computing was the union of digital consumer devices and computers. Led by James Gosling, the team worked around the clock and created the programming language that would revolutionize our world – Java.

The Green Team demonstrated their new language with an interactive, handheld home-entertainment controller that was originally targeted at the digital cable television industry. Unfortunately, the concept was much too advanced for them at the time. But it was just right for the Internet, which was just starting to take off. In 1995, the team announced that the Netscape Navigator Internet browser would incorporate Java technology.

Today, Java not only permeates the Internet, but also is the invisible force behind many of the applications and devices that power our day-to-day lives. From mobile phones to handheld devises, games and navigation systems to e business solutions, Java is everywhere.

There have been significant changes to Java since the first version, called JDK 1.0, was released. Newer versions of Java include 1.5 and 1.6 (also known as Java 5 and Java 6, respectively). Many features in the original version are no longer used. The language has grown much bigger as new features have been introduced in subsequent versions. Examples include the Swing and Java 2D graphical toolkits introduced in Java 2, and the generics framework introduced in Java 5.