The History of Java Script

JavaScript (often abbreviated as JS) is a programming or scripting language that allows the implementation of complex features on webpages. With JavaScript, you can add something more to a web page to make it more dynamic – timely content updates, animated 2D and 3D graphics, interactive maps, scrolling jukeboxes, and pretty much anything else. It is one of the more popular languages on the Web..

The Mosaic web browser was developed in 1993, becoming the first browser with a graphical user interface (GUI), making it a user-friendly browser. Mosaic had the internal codename of “Mozilla” – sounds familiar, right? It combined the names “Mosaic” and “Godzilla.”

Mosaic’s lead developers later founded the Netscape corporation, which released the more refined browser, Netscape Navigator, in 1994. For a time, Netscape Navigator was the most widely used browser and enjoyed market dominance.

Even so, web pages at that time were static, lacking the capability to have dynamic behavior once the page loaded in the browser. Remember, this was during the early years of the Web. Netscape knew that it had to introduce new features to retain its dominance, and its web browser needed to move beyond static displays and run real interactive software.

In 1995, Netscape decided to introduce a new scripting language to their Navigator. They sought the services of Sun Microsystems to embed the Java programming language and hired Brendan Eich to embed the Scheme language. Initially, Eich joined the Netscape team with the intention to put Scheme “in the browser.” However, the company’s big bosses decided that the best option for him was to create a new language – a syntax similar to Java but less similar to Scheme or other scripting languages. Eich developed the new scripting language in only ten days – the stuff that has become lore in the tech world.

The newly devised scripting language was initially called LiveScript when it was first shipped as part of a new Navigator release in 1995; months later, the name was changed into JavaScript.

Microsoft entered the browser arena by debuting Internet Explorer in 1995, leading to a “browser war” with Netscape. As for the JavaScript department, Microsoft reverse-engineered the Navigator interpreter to develop its own scripting language, the JScript, keeping “Java” off the name to dodge possible trademark issues.

However, JScript was more than just the name. It slightly differed in terms of implementation, especially with regards to DOM functions, which caused ripples that would still be felt many years from then. The first version of JScript was officially released together with Internet Explorer 3.0 in August 1996.

The following November, Netscape submitted JavaScript to ECMA International to make it a standard to all browser vendors. The standards processes went on for a few years, with the release of ECMAScript 2 in 1998 and ECMAScript 3 in 1999. In 2000 ECMA began work with the ECMAScript 4.

Microsoft joined the standards process and implemented some proposals in its JScript language. But it eventually scrapped its collaboration with ECMA, leading the fourth edition of the ECMAScript to be shelved.

New competitors stepped in – for instance, Mozilla joined the fray with its Firefox browser, which eventually gained a significant share in the browsers market.

Moving forward to the 2000’s, AOL acquired Netscape in 2003 and discontinued most, if not all, of its branding. Eich developed the Mosaic project to continue with the work that he began on JavaScript. Eich helped Mozilla to join (or rejoin) with ECMA as a non-profit organization. It led Mozilla to work jointly with Macromedia (later acquired by Adobe Systems). Together, they continued the process of updating the standard ECMAScript for XML – a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that can be readable by humans and machines. While the developments were a struggle for both parties, it became clear that JavaScript was gradually becoming more application-based.

Innovators such as Douglas Crockford was one of the pioneers of re-discovery of the JavaScript. His JSON data format is seen as one of the most underrated re-discoveries of the language. JSON utilizes a subset of the JavaScript language in its syntax, sparking further developments towards creating a new stance on the language.

And that stance became more favorable. JavaScript grew to become one of the “de facto” standard programming languages in this present generation. Recent developments, such JSON and Ajax, were instrumental in bringing JavaScript to a more progressive stand.

As the 21st century loomed, later developments paved the way for frameworks and libraries with JavaScript. These further developments have improved JavaScript programming, which has led to the increased usage of the language to use beyond web browsers. Several applications are coding with JavaScript, enhancing their user experience.

The CommonJS project was formed in 2009 in response to the continuous rise of JavaScript outside web browsers. This project aims to develop a library specific to JavaScript development outside of web browsers. Up to now, the CommonJS project continues to serve as a platform for compilers of both static and dynamic languages.