Key Points

  • James Gosling, with the help of Mike Sheridan and Patrick Naughton, began developing the Java computer language in June 1991.
  • Sun Microsystems released Java 1.0 to the public in 1996.
  • The creators called the language “Oak” initially in reference to a tree outside of Gosling’s office.

Two of the most powerful and popular programming languages used by developers today are C++ and Java. The older of these two, C++, gained dominance early in its history due to its innovative approach of simulating real-world scenarios with object-oriented programming data structures.

Java takes the essential features of its older cousin and adds multi-platform support and code that can run without the need to be pre-compiled. Java also offers a more intuitive language syntax that many developers prefer, but both languages remain very popular today for a variety of reasons.

The following comparison will examine the pros and cons of C++ and Java.

C++ vs Java: Side-by-Side Comparison

C++Java
Primary Use:Applications designed in earlier decades, operating systems, and current high-end gamesBack-end web development, mobile apps, desktop computing, scientific research
Creator:Bjarne StroustrupJames Gosling
Release date:19821996
Previous names:C with classesOak, Green
Predecessor Languages:Pascal, C, SimulaC, C++
Other Influential Developers:Rick MascittiMike Sheridan, Patrick Naughton
Technical differences:Platform dependent, pre-compiled, manual memory managementPortable, interpreted, and compiled code, the system managed memory

C++ vs Java: Five Must-Know Facts

  • C++ is the older of the two, having been released 14 years prior to the younger, more popular language, although the two languages share many similarities.
  • Java is not maintained by the International Standardization Organization as many other languages are. Instead, it maintains standards within its own community.
  • C++ was not the first object-oriented programming (OOP) language. It borrowed OOP ideas from the Simula language, which dates back to the 1960s.
  • After acquiring Sun Microsystems, the owners of Java, Oracle sued Microsoft for using its code in the Android SDK.
  • Java was one of the first modern coding languages that could run without needing to be pre-compiled, and programs can be written one time for multiple platforms, lending it greater compatibility with various systems.

C++: History

A Danish computer scientist, Bjarne Stroustrup, working at AT&T Bell Labs in New Jersey, began creating the C++ computer language in 1979. The new language was meant to extend the functionality of the C computer language.

Mainly, his goal was to add “classes” to the language, which were an innovative concept for code structure that helps developers simulate real-world scenarios. After considering the pros and cons of languages of the era, Stroustrup chose C as his starting point because it was fast and versatile.

Stroustrup’s experiences with languages that include Simula, BCPL, Ada, and others provided a base of knowledge that helped him invent class structures in the C language. Simula, in particular, had features that provided developers with the ability to simulate real-world situations and objects in a more practical and understandable way.

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java

However, he realized that the Simula language could not perform well enough to keep up with technological advancements.

When Stroustrup initially developed the new language, it was referred to as “C with classes” due to its similarities with its predecessor. It was not until 1982 that the true successor to C was completed. The name C++ was devised by Rick Mascitti in 1983 by appending the letter C with the “increment operator,” which consists of a double plus sign.

The increment operator is an efficient way to indicate in C code that a numerical value is to be increased by 1. Seeing this new name, developers would understand that this is a tongue-in-cheek way to convey that C++ has been increased with new functionality.

In 1985, the first official release of the written manual for the language, “The C++ programming language,” was published for industry-wide use by Stroustrup. The language was updated to C++ version 2.0 in 1989 when new features were added to support abstract classes, multiple inheritance, static member functions, and other additions.

In 2018, Stroustrup was awarded the Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering to honor his creation of C++, and it is still the fourth-most popular computer language in use in 2022.

Java: History

James Gosling, with the help of Mike Sheridan and Patrick Naughton, began developing the Java computer language in June 1991. The original purpose of the language was for interactive television, but the industry was not ready for a computer language of this complexity at that time.

The creators called the language “Oak” initially in reference to a tree outside of Gosling’s office. The project was changed to the name “Green” before it finally received its permanent name “Java,” which refers to a variety of Indonesian coffee.

Gosling was heavily inspired by the C and C++ languages, especially for their class data structures and object-oriented nature. The similarities in code syntax also enabled developers who were familiar with C/C++ to adapt to the language very quickly.

Sun Microsystems released Java 1.0 to the public in 1996, offering an innovation that enabled code that is written once to work on multiple platforms. This would offer a great deal of development cost savings to companies that needed to create applications on multiple platforms.

java
Computer with elements of program code on the screen and the inscription Java and a keyboard on a purple background 3d

Sun Microsystems intended to have the language approved in 1997 by international standards commissions, but the company aborted the process. The use of Java remains today controlled through a “de facto” standard, is governed by the Java Community Process.

In 2007, Sun completed the process to offer Java virtual machines as a free and open-source technology. All of the core code for developing in Java is available without cost. In prior years, Sun Microsystems derived revenue by selling enterprise implementations of Java.

Java version 2, which was released in 1998, came in three different varieties. The J2EE configuration was optimized for running on servers and enterprise systems, while J2ME was meant for mobile development. The variety of Java 2 that was preferred for desktop development was called J2SE.

In 2009, Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle, with the promise of upholding transparency and community involvement in maintaining and improving the language. Despite this, Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google for using its code within the Android SDK. James Gosling resigned from Oracle shortly after this incident.

Java remains in 2022 as one of the most popular computer languages used by developers, only second to Python. This is due mostly to Java’s similarity to its popular predecessors, its easy-to-learn syntax, versatility, memory management, and portability between all platforms.

C++ vs Java: Which one is better?

After considering the pros and cons of these two languages there are some important differences to take note of. Java is only second in popularity to Python, which is mostly because its syntax is easier to understand for developers learning their first programming language.

JavaScript programming language

When compared to C++, Java has object-oriented data structures and most of the other language features of C++, but it offers some improvements in memory management and platform portability. In some use cases, C++ is still preferred for its ability to optimize system resources and its ready integration with popular development platforms, such as the Unreal game engine.

If a developer is considering which language to specialize in, Java has slightly more to offer than C++.

Next Up…

C++ vs Java: Full Comparison FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are C++ and Java?

Both are high-level computer languages, which means that they enable programmers to read and write computer code that is much easier for humans to understand than the machine language used by computer processors which consist of strings of zeroes and ones, known as binary code.

When were C++ and Java developed?

Java was developed in 1995, and C++ was developed in 1997.

What are C++ and Java used for?

Both languages are capable of creating just about any type of computer program. Java is popular for creating programs that are run on servers and on the back ends of internet web pages. Java programs also run on the front end in applications that users interact with directly. C++ is a high-performance programming language that has been dominant in the computer gaming industry for decades, and it is also a popular choice for developers who create other types of desktop software that utilize object-oriented data structures.

Is C++ better than Java?

There are some important differences to note between the two languages, although they share many similarities. C++ is generally faster than Java in running similar types of applications because Java programs often need to interpret code during runtime, while programs written with C++ do not. However, many programmers prefer to work with Java because of its compatibility, ease of use, and its prevalence in web development, which comprises a large portion IT industry.

Is Java or C++ more useful?

Java is used by more developers than C++ because it is platform-independent, as opposed to C++ which is only usable on specific platforms. Java is also offers improved compatibility because it can be interpreted in real-time, while C++ has to be compiled into an executable file before a system can run C++ programs.

Is C++ harder than Java?

Developers still choose to program in C++ today because of its superior performance in demanding applications such as games and other complex types of software. However, it is also known as one of the most difficult languages to use when compared to more popular languages. One reason for this is that the language syntax is more technical than that of Java, and developers need to have a better understanding of low-level computer processes to achieve optimum performance with C++ code.

Which is more powerful, C++ or Java?

In terms of application speed during run-time, C++ tends to be more powerful because it is pre-compiled before runtime and the language provides more features to extract greater optimization of system resources. On the other hand, in some cases, the garbage collection features of Java make it more effective for memory management. Java’s ability to be used on all platforms is also a reason why some developers consider it to be more powerful than C++. Java would be the winner for versatility, while C++ is superior in speed and performance on platforms that can run C++ programs.

How fast is C++ compared to Java?

Use cases yield varied results, but tests have shown that the speed of C++ programs, on average, is about five percent faster than similar programs written in Java and tested in similar environments.

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