Where Java Fits In: History of Programming

By Barry Burd

Find out how Java fits into today’s computer and technology scene. Here’s a brief history of modern computer programming (the whole history of computer programming is just 60 years old):

  • 1954–1957: FORTRAN is developed.

    FORTRAN was the first modern computer programming language. For scientific programming, FORTRAN is a real racehorse. Year after year, FORTRAN is a leading language among computer programmers throughout the world.

  • 1959: Grace Hopper at Remington Rand develops the COBOL programming language.

    The letter B in COBOL stands for Business, and business is just what COBOL is all about. The language’s primary feature is the processing of one record after another, one customer after another, or one employee after another.

    Within a few years after its initial development, COBOL became the most widely used language for business data processing. Even today, COBOL represents a large part of the computer programming industry.

  • 1972: Dennis Ritchie at AT&T Bell Labs develops the C programming language.

    The “look and feel” that you see in this book’s examples comes from the C programming language. Code written in C uses curly braces, statements, statements, and so on.

    In terms of power, you can use C to solve the same problems that you can solve by using FORTRAN, Java, or any other modern programming language. (You can write a scientific calculator program in COBOL, but doing that sort of thing would feel really strange.) The difference between one programming language and another isn’t power. The difference is ease and appropriateness of use. That’s where the Java language excels.

  • 1986: Bjarne Stroustrup (again at AT&T Bell Labs) develops C++.

    Unlike its C language ancestor, the language C++ supports object-oriented programming. This support represents a huge step forward.

  • May 23, 1995: Sun Microsystems releases its first official version of the Java programming language.

    Java improves upon the concepts in C++. Java’s “Write Once, Run Anywhere” philosophy makes the language ideal for distributing code across the Internet.

    Additionally, Java is a great general-purpose programming language. With Java, you can write windowed applications, build and explore databases, control handheld devices, and more. Within five short years, the Java programming language had 2.5 million developers worldwide.

  • November 2000: The College Board announces that, starting in the year 2003, the Computer Science Advanced Placement exams will be based on Java.

    Wanna know what that snot-nosed kid living down the street is learning in high school? You guessed it — Java.

  • 2002: Microsoft introduces a new language named C#.

    Many of the C# language features come directly from features in Java.

  • June 2004: Sys-Con Media reports that the demand for Java programmers tops the demand for C++ programmers by 50 percent.

    And there’s more! The demand for Java programmers beats the combined demand for C++ and C# programmers by 8 percent. Java programmers are more employable than VB (Visual Basic) programmers by a whopping 190 percent.

  • 2007: Google adopts Java as the primary language for creating apps on Android mobile devices.

  • January 2010: Oracle Corporation purchases Sun Microsystems, bringing Java technology into the Oracle family of products.

  • June 2010: eWeek ranks Java first among its “Top 10 Programming Languages to Keep You Employed”.

  • August 2013: Java runs on more than 1.1 billion desktop computers and Android Java runs on 250 million mobile phones.

    Additionally, Java technology provides interactive capabilities to all Blu-ray devices and is the most popular programming language in the TIOBE Programming Community Index, on PYPL: the PopularitY of Programming Language Index, and on other indexes.