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A Quick Look at the History of JavaScript

written by: Niki Fears•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 11/27/2009

The use of JavaScript seems to be standard with most web sites today, but where exactly did it all start and where did JavaScript come from? Read on for a brief little history of JavaScript to find out.

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    Using JavaScript helps web developers produce great dynamic content and you are likely to come across sites using JavaScript every time you surf the web. But have you ever wondered where JavaScript came from, when it was developed, or how it got it's name? In this article we will take a quick look at the history of JavaScript and its development.

    The Net Before JavaScript

    When the internet first began, way back in the late 1960's, most computers were simply linking collections of data together. The first browser resembling what we know today was developed by Tim Berners-Lee and released in 1991. The browser, aptly named the “worldwideweb" allowed users to utilize documents using HTTP hyper text language. A couple of years later, a new browser, the NCSA mosaic began to liven up the internet world by allowing documents to go beyond plain text and involve colors and simple, in-line graphics. However, to despite this great breakthrough in internet technology, the web was still a very different place from the dynamic multi-media world that we all know and love with the modern internet. In the mid 90's a team of developers from the Mosaic project left the project to begin their own. The result was the release of the Netscape browser. It was not until the release of the second version of Netscape; however, that JavaScript was born.

    JavaScript Comes To Life

    Brendan Eich, who was then a member of the Netscape team, developed a new scripting program that would soon reshape the world of web development. Because developers could use the script to embed coding into a web page, it helped to open up a lot of avenues for more dynamic and advanced web sites and provided a muse to many creative comp geeks out there who have used the inspiration provided by JavaScript to develop an evolving array of scripts, dynamic languages, and new content utilization to create a vibrant internet world.

    All In a Name

    Of course JavaScript and its related spin offs have continued to evolve since its initial release in 1996. While you might not be rushing to add Brendan Eich to your Christmas Card list you can now give credit where credit is due; so the next time you are enjoying a website employing the JavaScript technology you can say that you know where it came from, and who created it.

    Before its official release, JavaScript suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, being known as LiveWire during some earlier development stages. Later it was known by the name LiveScript. However developers were not quite happy with that and since part of the basic syntax utilized by the script closely resembled the newest programming language sensation known as Java, the project was given new life under the name JavaScript. Some critics argued that the name was merely a marketing ploy used by the Netscape team in hopes of cashing in on the popularity of the new Java area; but then again, that is what marketing is all about? Whatever the motive behind the name, it worked, and JavaScript has become an essential part of web site development today and has led to a wide range of JavaScript references and tutorials to help people build even better web sites.