O'Reilly logo

The Past, Present, and Future of JavaScript by Axel Rauschmayer

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 1. The Past, Present, and Future of JavaScript

Over recent years, JavaScript has seen an impressive rise in popularity. Initially, that popularity was fueled by the success of client-side scripting, but JavaScript is increasingly being used in a general-purpose capacity, e.g. to write server and desktop applications. This article examines the JavaScript phenomenon from three angles:

We conclude with a wish list and a few parting thoughts.

The Past

In 1995, Netscape’s Navigator was the dominant web browser and the company decided to add interactivity to HTML pages, via a lightweight programming language. They hired Brendan Eich to implement it. He finished a first version of the language in 10 days, in May 1995. Its initial name was Mocha which was changed to the more Netscape-esque LiveScript in September. In December, Netscape and Sun had a licensing agreement that led to the programming language’s final name, JavaScript. At that point, it was included in Netscape Navigator 2.0B3.

The name “JavaScript” hints at the originally intended role for the language: Sun’s Java was to provide the large-scale building blocks for web applications, while JavaScript was to be the glue, connecting the blocks. Obviously, that shared client-side responsibility never transpired: JavaScript now dominates the browser, Java is mostly dead there.

JavaScript was influenced by several programming languages: The Lisp dialect Scheme gave it its rules for variable scoping, ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required