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The history of JavaScript

Hack Reactor

The history of JavaScript

Christened as Mocha, introduced to the world as LiveScript, and given a new name later, it was designed as an effort to make web pages more interactive. The name was changed just a few months after its debut to JavaScript, and now it’s grown to be essential for web pages and arguably the leading programming language in the world.

A StackOverflow Developer Survey in 2020 ranked JavaScript as the most popular language. More than 90 percent of websites use JavaScript, and it’s also a component of Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more. Regardless of how much it’s loved, it ranks at the top as the most used, making education in JavaScript important to a software engineer’s career. With such a large number of jobs that deal with JavaScript, it’s critical knowledge for beginners just getting started in their careers.

Brandon Eich, the creator of JavaScript, designed it to be a language that could be used by programmers and designers to assemble components and automate their work.

Always bet on JavaScript.

– Brandon Eich


December 1994 – Netscape debuts its Navigator browser

One of the first web browsers on the market for users, Navigator’s launch will lead to the development of one of the most popular programming languages.

August 1995 – Microsoft introduces Internet Explorer

The software behemoth uses its own JScript language, which launches the first browser wars. Because of the differences, web developers are unable to design pages that look good in both browsers, requiring a notification on web pages about which browser the page was designed for.

September 1995 – JavaScript debut

Netscape hires Eich to embed Scheme into its browser with Java, which is added as part of a collaboration with Sun Microsystems. Realizing that this is not the best approach, Eich is tasked with designing a new language that has elements of both but is closer to Java than Scheme. It takes him less than two weeks to complete the task.

June 1997 – First ECMAScript

After submission to ECMA International, a body that sets standards for information systems, in November 1996, JavaScript spurs the release of the first official language specification. More specifications would continue until 2000 where they would hit a roadblock.

The strength of JavaScript is that you can do anything. The weakness is that you will.

Reg Braithwaite

Early 2000 – Microsoft upends standardization

Enjoying a 95% market share with Explorer, Microsoft stops working with ECMA International on its JScript language since JScript has become the default client-side scripting. This brings a halt to continued standardization.

September 2002 – Firefox changes the standardization game

Mozilla, the successor to Netscape, releases the Firefox browser, which eventually led to the rise of JavaScript again. Firefox was a popular browser that began to take market share from Internet Explorer. In 2004, Mozilla begins working with ECMA International on standardization, but no new specifications are released because of Microsoft’s continued refusal to collaborate.

JavaScript is the duct tape of the Internet.

– Charlie Campbell

February 2005 – JavaScript resurgence

Jesse James Barrett introduces a white paper, “Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications,” about the creation of web applications that allowed background loading as opposed to the reload of an entire page, and JavaScript was central to them. Ajax is a shortened version of Asynchronous JavaScript + XML. This spurred the JavaScript community to begin development of numerous frameworks and libraries, including:

  • Angular – framework for building single-page applications

  • Dojo Toolkit – designed to reduce time in developing cross-platform web applications and sites

  • Ember JS – framework for single page applications

  • jQuery – library to simplify HTML DOM

  • MooTools – framework for writing flexible, cross-browser code

  • Prototype JS – framework for writing web applications

  • React JS – Facebook framework for writing user interfaces and their components

  • Vue – framework for web interfaces and single-page applications

September 2008 – Chrome surges with JavaScript

Google releases Chrome, which was partly written in JavaScript and featured the V8 JavaScript engine. It is the fastest browser on the market at the time. Chrome has a 64% share of the browser market. The 95% share Microsoft once owned with Explorer became virtually non-existent. It replaced the browser with Edge, which only has a 4% share.

December 2009 – A new ECMA standard

After more than one and a half years of effort, the new ECMAScript 5 language specification is released. It is currently on its 11th edition.

2012

Inspired by the immersive education experience he had in Korea, Tony Phillips starts coding bootcamp Hack Reactor with his brother Marcus Phillips and Shawn Drost. Their first-class consisted of 16 students, all of whom found jobs. Hack Reactor focuses on JavaScript education and becomes the premier coding bootcamp in the nation. 

2010 – today

JavaScript can be found virtually everywhere on anything that has to do with the Internet. The language continues to evolve. Every year since it was developed, JavaScript has remained the 1st or 2nd most popular language, and continually ranks as one of the most important languages to receive training.

Any app that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript.

Jeff Atwood