Javascript: History, Origin, and More

Javascript code computer language programming internet text editor components on display screen

Javascript: History, Origin, and More

Key Points:

  • JavaScript is a high-level multi-paradigm programming language. High level means the language can be used independently of a particular type of computer. It is thought of as a high-level language because it is much closer to human languages than machine-level programming languages. It is multi-paradigm because it supports event-driven, functional, and imperative programming styles such as object-oriented and prototype-based.
  • JavaScript was originally designed at Netscape by Brendan Eich inspired by previous projects made with Sun Microsystems using the programming language Java under the name LiveScript. The name was changed in the first year it was introduced due to a growing influence from Java.
  • It is currently still being developed by Mozilla Foundation and ECMA International.
  • JavaScript engines designed to be embedded within browsers have different codenames. For example, V8 is the JavaScript engine in Chrome, Opera, and Edge.
  • The popularity of JavaScript, or ECMAScript, inspired the creation of other languages such as Microsoft’s Jscript.

JavaScript was developed by Brendan Eich in 1995 for Netscape Communications Corporation’s Netscape Navigator 2, the company’s proprietary web browser. The founder of Netscape Communications, Marc Andereessen, believed that the internet should be more dynamic and include user interaction, animations, and other interactivity. Eich developed a scripting language that could make this type of dynamic interaction possible. It was initially named Mocha but was renamed JavaScript in 1995.

In 1996, the ECMA, an association that standardizes information and communications systems, set out to standardize JavaScript. By that point, 300,000 web pages were already using JavaScript. Standardization made the object-oriented programming language available to a wider audience. It also allowed third-party developers to contribute to the development of the language without allowing them to deviate too far from the original version.

Quick Facts

Creator (person)
Brendan Eich
Original Price
Operating System
Windows, macOS, etc.
Developed By (company)
Brendan Eich, Netscape, Mozilla foundation

The ECMA couldn’t use JavaScript as the name of their standardized version of the language due to trademark issues. So, they named it ECMAScript. Today, JavaScript conforms to the specifications established for ECMAScript.

What Is JavaScript: Explained

In short, it is a high-level multi-paradigm computer programming language that is most commonly used to create interactive features within web browsers. It was originally developed by Brendan Eich at the request of Netscape for their new browser. It changed the way the public saw the internet and gave web designers the ability to make creative web page designs.

JavaScript programming language allows developers to make webpages interactive.

Since its inception, JavaScript, or ECMAScript, has grown exponentially. With further developments by Netscape in competition with Microsoft’s Jscript and later editions from the Mozilla Foundation and ECMA International, JavaScript has continued to evolve with its last feature update in 2018.

JavaScript is most typically used for web browsers and server-side scripting. It can be used independently of a web browser with the use of a JavaScript engine. JavaScript engines are what enable web browsers to use the programming language. It is best to think of it as a kind of interpreter that translates script into computer action.

It is used in every modern web browser as one of the backbones for website design and server management.

How to Use JavaScript

Like every other programming language, there are easily accessible and even free online education platforms where anyone can learn JavaScript. Its wide use has promoted the growth of a rather helpful community of developers. This means that getting started with JavaScript is only a click away.

All you need sis a computer of almost any kind and a text editor. Online education resources like W3 Schools provide in-browser editors.

There is also the option of an integrated development environment (IDE). IDE’s are a combination of the most commonly needed development tools into one interface. Typically, they include a source code editor, local build automation, and a debugger. These tools help programmers to quickly address syntax and coding errors. Assessing code written in plain text can be difficult as there is no indication where errors may be coming from. IDEs aren’t the end-all of problem-solving, but they can help speed it along. They are also free to download and sometimes hosted on websites.

Javascript code
This photo illustrates web development/programmer workflow using Javascript.

Some popular JavaScript IDEs to download or use online are:

A solid development environment and online education websites are your mightiest tools. With the help of W3 Schools, Code Academy, Learn JavaScript, and many others, you can be a professional JavaScript programmer in no time. Online tutorials are widely abundant and free. Websites like Code Academy and W3 Schools even include tutorials with lightweight IDE’s built-in to the page for practice.

How to Learn JavaScript

The best way to learn it is to use online tutorials. The practical knowledge learned through hands-on practice is invaluable. There are numerous websites dedicated to free programming education. Some are even dedicated specifically to JavaScript such as Learn Javascript. W3 Schools is also an excellent resource for learning JavaScript.

There are only three tools you will need:

  • A computer of any kind (Laptop, Desktop, Tablet, Phone, etc)
  • A web browser and/or JavaScript IDE
  • Internet Access

Internet access can be substituted with a decent book on the topic, but online forums and websites are widely available and cheaper options. Online forums often contain conversations that discuss coding problems and solutions that you may experience. The online community can also help to clarify programming definitions such as the different operators and when to use them.

As of 2022, 98% of websites worldwide use JavaScript as a client-side programming language.

The Difference Between JavaScript and Java?

Besides Java predating JavaScript, Java is an object-oriented programing language while JavaScript has become a multi-paradigm programming language. Programs made from Java are able to run in either a virtual machine or browser. JavaScript programs are mostly run in a browser. Both languages require different libraries and plug-ins to function.

The most notable difference for programmers is that Java code needs to be compiled to be run. JavaScript codes are all written in text and can be organized, saved, edited, and operated as text files.

JavaScript Release History

JavaScript 1.0, also known as ECMAScript 1, was released in 1995-1997 alongside Netscape Navigator 2 under the name LiveScript later changed to JavaScript after adding a list of features from Java. It was widely successful and gave Netscape Navigator a hold on the leading position of the browser market at the time.

ES2 and ES3

ECMAScript 2 (ES2) was released in 1998 and ECMAScript 3 (ES3) were mainly editorial changes to go along with new web browser releases. ES3 also added regular expressions, try/catch, switch, and do-while.

ES5, 2009

In 1999, ECMAScript 5 was the first major revision to JavaScript. This version added “strict mode”, JSON support, String.trim(), Array.isArray(), Array iteration methods, and trailing commas for object literals.

ES6, 2015

After a long break in developments caused by the major success of the ES5 revisions, ECMAScript 6 was released in 2015. Six years of experience had created a list of demands to be filled over the following years. ES6 started the strong development push by adding let and const, default parameter values, and by increasing array features with Array.find() and Array.findIndex().

2016, 2017, and 2018

The next three years saw ES6 grow with further features releases. In 2016, the exponential operator (**) and Array.includes() were added. 2017 saw the addition of string padding, Object.entries(), Object.values(), async functions, and shared memory. The last additions were in 2018 as rest /spread properties, asynchronous iteration, Promise.finally(), and more features were given to RegExp.

JavaScript: End of Development

Development is still ongoing. While the last feature release was in 2018, further additions are not out of the question.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a high-level multi-paradigm programming language. It was originally designed to help bring more interactive features to web browsers. It also automates client-side processes like form input validation. It was originally designed to “make web pages alive”.

What is JavaScript used for?

JavaScript is used for script execution for web pages and server-side operations. It can even be used on any device with the aid of a program called the JavaScript engine. Browsers have these engines embedded into them.

When was JavaScript developed?

Development for JavaScript was started in 1995 by Brendan Eich. He was set to the task by Netscape to find a way to make web pages feel more alive and interactive.

Who created JavaScript?

JavaScript was created by Brendan Eich, but owned by Netscape. It was originally named LiveScript, but Netscape decided to change the name to pay homage to the language that influenced it the most, Java. It was later developed further by the Mozilla foundation.

How do I start JavaScript?

You can start learning and using JavaScript online with tutorials and resources provided educational websites like W3 Schools or Code Academy. These resources can make esoteric terms like operator or array functions easier to understand and master than a manual alone.

Is Python better than JavaScript?

Python is a language selected more by beginners than professionals. JavaScript has a higher learning curve than Python. This often gives beginners the impression that Python is a better functioning language. In some ways, they are correct. However, web development often requires the features of JavaScript to create individualized solutions.

What is the difference between HTML and JavaScript?

While both languages are used across the internet and by the largest names in technology like Microsoft and Apple, they are made for wildly different purposes. HTML, or Hyper-Text Markup Language, is designed to give web pages structure for plain text and cross-site linking. JavaScript allows for the creation of interactive web applications.

What was the original price of JavaScript?

As a programming language, the price for using it is time. All you need to do is learn the language and start making small programs to get used to it. Like most other programming languages, it is offered for free and even promoted.

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