The History of Java



This is one of the articles from our Java Tutorial for Beginners.


Below is a brief history of how the Java programming language was created.

Who created the Java programming language?

It was developed by two engineers at the Sun Microsystems company:

  • Patrick Naughton – the head of the group of engineers
  • James Gosling – a Canadian computer scientist and a member of the Board of Directors

Why was Java created?

Patrick Naughton and James Gosling worked on the "Green" project with the purpose to create a programming language for everyday household appliances. What kind of household appliances? All kinds of them. For example, cable TV switchboxes.

Household appliances:

  • consume a small amount of energy (hence the name - “Green”);
  • and also have small memory chips and, consequently, programs for them should be small as well. In addition to this, their goal was to develop a language that could be read by any machine and didn't need to be individually written for each device (their slogan was "Write once, run anywere"). The C++ programming language hadn't been suitable for this purpose and, therefore, they developed this new programming language, which they named Java.

And why the name “Java”?

It's worth mentioning that Java didn't always have its famous name.

Oak-Vertex-AcademyInitially, the new language was called “Oak”.  Under the window of James Gosling's office, there was an oak tree which he liked a lot, and so he decided to name the new language in honor of the tree.

When Sun Microsystems saw that the language worked well and could be made public, they decided to change the name, since another programming language already had that moniker. Also, they needed a better-sounding name, one that was more commercial. So they called it “Java.

So why specifically "Java"?

Cups-Vertex-AcademyThere are three main theories why it was named Java:

Theory 1. The first one is the most interesting. Programmers drink a lot of coffee. While they were creating the new language, they drank a ton of coffee, and so they decided to name the language after the Java coffee bean.

Theory 2. The name was given in honor of the Java coffee bean, which gets its name from the Indonesian island Java. This theory is similar to the 1st theory.

Theory 3. Since the new language was developed for household appliances and the coffee machine is a household appliance, somebody thought of the connection between the two.

When was Java created?

  • 1991 - the programming language was released under the name "Oak"
  • May 23, 1995 – the official release date under the "Java" name

Who owns Java now?

In 2009, the Java programming language got a new owner when Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle. Currently, Oracle owns Java.


You can find more articles in our Java Tutorial for Beginners. 


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