Why Does “JavaScript” Contain Word “Java” Even If It Has Nothing To Do With Java


Short Bytes: Why does “JavaScript” contain “Java” word in it? Well, it has nothing to do with Java. The early web browser wars between Netscape (backed by Sun Microsystems) and Microsoft influenced how JavaScript was gradually named and shaped. Java name was included as a marketing strategy to gain acceptance. 

Java in Javascript has nothing to do with Java language itself–there’s absolutely no co-relation. But, it’s a known fact that Javascript was inspired by Java, along with Scheme and self-programming languages. JavaScript was created by Brendan Eich in 1995.

Brendan Eich had said after Sun-Netscape appliance that they decided to go along with the wave of hype surrounding Java at that time and position JavaScript as the companion language to Java, in the same way Visual Basic was to C++. So, the name was a just a completely transparent marketing play to gain acceptance.

In words of Eich himself —

“Netscape and Sun did a license agreement and it became JavaScript. And the idea was to make it a complementary scripting language to go with Java, with the compiled language.”

JavaScript has had its previous version of names before it officially came to be known as ECMAScript in the standards committee. It was originally named Mocha, then it became Livescript and finally became Javascript when Sun and Netscape came together. When Netscape and Internet Explorer were fighting to dominate the browser world and hence the web, Microsoft cloned it and named it JScript. That was the reason Netscape (With Sun Microsystems) started the standardization process and changed the official name from JavaScript to ECMA to keep Microsoft from getting hold of the sole decisions to access it and make decisions to change/improve it.

Brendan Eich extracted the key features from Java, Scheme and Self, and took the bold decision to use prototypical inheritance instead of Class based inheritance (C++, Java, Python). JavaScript wasn’t known for many years, because it couldn’t do much outside of the browser. Even inside the browser, it could only do some mostly trivial fancy things, it was the world of Java applets.

What made JavaScript the most popular programming language in the world is that, it managed to get inside browsers before it was known or popular. After 2000s, Java applets fell into a deep abyss never to come back again.


Now you know more about some essential history of JavaScript and how it was named.

Let us know how you liked this article in the comments below. I’ll be writing more about the Good and Weird parts of JavaScript in the coming posts.

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