Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Java platform

The Java platform is a software platform developed by Sun Microsystems. The Java platform has been specifically developed so that programs written for it will look and function approximately the same regardless of the device it is running on.

The Java platform is usually split into three parts:

Table of contents
1 History
2 Related free software
3 See also
4 External links


The early years

The Java platform and language began as an internal project at Sun Microsystems in the December 1990 timeframe. Patrick Naughton, an engineer at Sun, had become increasingly frustrated with the state of Sun's C++ and C APIs and tools. While considering moving to NeXT, Patrick was offered a chance to work on new technology and thus the Stealth Project was started.

The Stealth Project was soon renamed to the Green Project with James Gosling and Mike Sheridan joining Patrick Naughton. They, together with some other engineers, began work in a small office on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park to develop a new technology. The team originally considered C++ as the language to use, but many of them as well as Bill Joy found C++ and the available APIs problematic for several reasons.

Their platform was an embedded platform and had limited resources. Many members found that C++ was too complicated and developers often misused it. They found C++'s lack of garbage collection to also be a problem. Security, distributed programming, and threadinging support was also required. Finally, they wanted a platform that could be easily ported to all types of devices.

According to the available accounts, Bill Joy had ideas of a new language combining the best of MESA and C. He proposed, in a paper called Further, to Sun that its engineers should produce an object-oriented environment based on C++. James Gosling's frustrations with C++ began while working on Imagination, an SGML editor. Initially, James attempted to modify and extend C++, which he referred to as C++ ++ --, but soon abandoned that in favor of creating an entirely new language, called Oak named after the oak tree that stood just outside his office.

Like many stealth projects working on new technology, the team worked long hours and by the summer of 1992, they were able to demo portions of the new platform including the Green OS, Oak the language, the libraries, and the hardware. Their first attempt focused on building a PDA-like device having a highly graphical interface and a smart agent called Duke to assist the user.

The device was named Star7 after a telephone feature activated by *7 on a telephone keypad. The feature enabled users to answer the telephone anywhere. The PDA device itself was demonstrated on September 3, 1992.

In November of that year, the Green Project was spun off to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Sun Microsystems: FirstPerson, Inc. The team relocated to Palo Alto. The FirstPerson team was interested in building highly interactive devices and when Time Warner issued an RFP for a set-top box, FirstPerson changed their target and responded with a proposal for a set-top box platform. However, the cable industry felt that their platform gave too much control to the user and FirstPerson lost their bid to SGI. An additional deal with 3DO for a set-top box also failed to materialize. FirstPerson was unable to generate any interest within the cable TV industry for their platform. Following their failures, the company, FirstPerson, was rolled back into Sun.

Java meets the Internet

In June and July of 1994, after a 3 day brain storm session with John Gage, James Gosling, Bill Joy, Patrick Naughton, Wayne Rosing, and Eric Schmidt, the team re-targeted yet again its efforts, this time to use the technology for the Internet. They felt that with the advent of the Mosaic web browser, the Internet was on its way to evolving into the same highly interactive vision that they had had for the cable TV network. Patrick Naughton wrote a small web browser, WebRunner, as a prototype. WebRunner would later be renamed HotJava.

It was also in 1994, that Oak was renamed Java. An IP (intellectual property) search revealved that Oak had already been trademarked for another language so the team searched for a new name. The name Java was coined at a local coffee shop frequented by some of the members. It is not clear whether the name is an acronymn or not. Most likely, it is not, however some accounts claim that it stands for the names of James Gosling, Arthur Van Hoff, and Andy Bechtolsheim.

In October of 1994, HotJava and the Java platform was demoed for Sun executives. Java 1.0a was made available for download in 1994, but the first public release of Java and the HotJava web browser came on May 23, 1995, at the SunWorld conference. The annoucement was made by John Gage, the Director of Science for Sun Microsystems. His announcement was accompanied by a surprise announcement by Marc Andreessen, Executive Vice President of Netscape, that Netscape would be including Java support in its browsers.

In January of 1996, the JavaSoft business group was formed by Sun Microsystems to develop the technology.

Related free software

See also

External links