Today in History – January 23, 1996 – The first version of the Java programming language is released. Java was developed independently of the Web, starting in 1991 with a small group of Sun engineers called the “Green Team”. Their vision was that the next wave in computing was the union of digital consumer devices and computers. James Gosling led the team and worked around the clock to release this first version originally called Oak. The Green Team’s first demonstration of their new language was for an interactive, hand-held home-entertainment controller that was originally targeted at the digital cable television industry. The worked focused on business models and end users. They subscribed to what Bill Joy called “Hammer Technology”: taking a bunch of existing stuff and hammering it together. Learning by doing. We built things you can hold and use. This is why we chose as deliverables a set of working prototypes and a business plan.”
Alas it was technology ahead of its time and it didn’t take off immediately. Coincidentally, however, the World Wide Web was also being launched and the Green Team saw its potential and announced in 1995 that the new Netscape Navigator internet browser would incorporate Java technology. The Java language is now the major programming language for the Web and for many other applications, including robotics, mechatronics, and embedded computing.
I highly recommend that interested readers watch the video introduced by Scott McNealy at the 2009 JavaOne general session or James Gosling’s Thoughts for Students. James Gosling narrates this humorous Gospel of Java According to James.
For more information, see the Engineering Pathway’s resources on the Java programming language and the history of computing. For related educational resources, visit the Computer Science Education, Information Systems Education, Information Technology Education, Computer Engineering Education or Software Engineering Education disciplinary communities.