A Brief History of JavaScript: Everything You Need to Know

Did you know the earliest version of JavaScript was called Mocha? The original name, coined by its creator, Brendan Eich, at Netscape in May 1995, was inspired by a coffee-like coding style.

The second time, it was briefly renamed LiveScript for its beta version in Netscape 2.0 in September 1995.

Roughly after 2 months, the official name changed to JavaScript for the final release of Netscape 2.0B3 in December 1995. This was due to a strategic partnership between Netscape and Sun Microsystems, which wanted to capitalize on the popularity of Java.

Later on, Sun Microsystems got the trademark “JavaScript” in the United States on May 6, 1997. However, when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009, the ownership of the trademark was transferred to Oracle.

Let’s start from the 90s.

History of JavaScript in the 90s

It all unfolded within six months, from May to December 1995. Netscape Communications Corporation, a major player in the emerging web, boasted the Netscape Communicator browser, gaining ground against NCSA Mosaic, the pioneer web browser. Founded by individuals involved in Mosaic’s early development, Netscape, now financially independent, sought ways to enhance the web’s capabilities. This quest led to the creation of JavaScript.

Marc Andreessen

Marc Andreessen, Netscape Communications founder and ex-Mosaic team member, envisioned a more dynamic web with animations and interaction. To achieve this, a scripting language interacting with the evolving Document Object Model (DOM) was needed.

Crucially, this language had to be accessible to designers, not just seasoned developers. Java, gaining popularity, targeted professional developers with Java applets. Netscape aimed for a different audience – designers who found HTML user-friendly. The concept of Mocha emerged, a scripting language designed for simplicity, dynamism, and accessibility.

Brendan Eich

Brendan Eich, JavaScript’s creator, entered the scene when contracted by Netscape to develop a “Scheme for the browser.” Scheme, a Lisp dialect, offered lightweight syntax, dynamism, and functional features – qualities needed for the web. Eich seized the opportunity to contribute to something he liked.

Pressure mounted to create a working prototype swiftly. Java was rising, and Netscape was close to a deal with Sun Microsystems to incorporate Java into the browser.

However, Mocha, later JavaScript, aimed at a different audience than Java – designers and scripters, not enterprise-level developers. Eich had to act fast amid competing languages like Python, Tcl, and Scheme. In a few weeks, JavaScript emerged as a working prototype, integrating into Netscape Communicator in May 1995.

Originally conceived as a Scheme, JavaScript took a turn due to strategic decisions and time constraints. A Java-like syntax was adopted, aligning with familiar semantics. Renamed LiveScript, the language aimed at small client-side tasks.

In December 1995, Netscape and Sun closed the deal – Mocha/LiveScript became JavaScript. JavaScript, focused on client-side scripting, coexisted with Java and was positioned for larger, professional web components.

This initial JavaScript version laid the foundation for many features defining the language today, including its object model and functional aspects. The successful prototype shaped Java-Script’s destiny, influencing the trajectory of web development.

The hypothetical scenarios of failure or a different outcome remain unknown, adding a layer of uncertainty to the language’s history. The intertwining of Netscape, Sun, and the evolving web landscape played a crucial role in shaping Java-Script into the widely used language we know today.

JavaScript and Java – What’s the deal (with Names)

JavaScript and Java might sound similar, but they are actually different programming languages. When Java-Script was introduced, Java was a big deal, and Netscape, the creator of Java-Script, wanted to benefit from Java’s popularity. So, they named it “JavaScript” to catch people’s attention. However, these languages are not closely related; the similar names were mainly a marketing trick to make Java-Script more widely accepted during a time when Java was the talk of the town in programming.

Also read: Java’s Undeniable Dominance: A Cornerstone of Development, Security, and Privacy

JavaScript in 2023 and Beyond 

JavaScript is everywhere on the internet! It’s the most widely used programming language, and in 2023, over 63.61% of developers are using it. 

JavaScript in 2023 and Beyond 

There are also cool frameworks and libraries like Ember, Angular, React, and Vue, which help build powerful web applications. Surprisingly, you can even use JavaScript to write mobile apps now.

Starting from a bumpy beginning, JavaScript has become the go-to language for building more than 90% of websites, including giants like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. It’s not just for scripting anymore; Java Script has evolved into a strong and efficient language for various purposes. This tells us that Java Script is here to stay for a long time!

Final Say

It’s been nearly 2 decades, and we’re still using JavaScript; no wonder it’s still the most popular programming language in the world. Java Script has had a bumpy but impressive journey. It started as a “Scheme for the web,” quickly got Java-like syntax, and had three names in less than two years. After a rough patch, it got back on track with the success of AJAX. Versions 4 and 3.1 came and went, and then came Version 5, which was renamed to 2015.

The development of Version 6 took time but injected new life into Java Script. Now, with projects like Node.js and WebAssembly, Java Script’s future looks bright. Despite the bumps, it remains one of the most successful languages. Always bet on Java Script!

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