The Birth of JavaScript

02.08.2018 |

Episode #1 of the course Fundamentals of JavaScript by Matt Fay


Welcome! My name is Matt, and I began learning JavaScript over five years ago. During that time, I’ve read just about every book there is on the subject, spent countless hours writing programs, and have been mentored by some of the most knowledgeable people in the JavaScript community.

Over the next ten days, you’ll be introduced to an array of subjects. You’ll get a sense of how programs on the web are created by learning the fundamentals of JavaScript, you’ll have enough exposure to dig deeper in the subject, and you’ll even be able to write simple programs in your web browser.

Today, we’ll learn about the history of JavaScript.


Brendan Eich, Netscape, and JavaScript

Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that JavaScript is not related to Java, though the name was borrowed as a way to get this new language accepted and gain immediate credibility. Brendan Eich, the co-founder of Mozilla (1998) and now the creator of the Brave browser, created the language in 1995 in ten days, as a programming language for the Netscape Navigator browser, the most popular browser at the time. Formerly known as Mocha, then LiveScript, JavaScript was inspired by the Scheme programming language. It functioned the same, and its syntax was inspired by Java. Meant to make the web an application platform, JavaScript has come a long way.

In the beginning, JavaScript wasn’t taken seriously by many people. They had good reasons for their disposition, some of which we’ll speak of in later lessons. But a lot has changed since then, and it seems that more people are beginning to embrace JavaScript.


ECMAScript and Ecma International

You might see JavaScript and ECMAscript used interchangeably. They refer to the same language, and you may also see JScript mentioned, which is Microsoft’s version of JavaScript—they’re all the same.

However, people typically refer to ECMAScript as a means to describe the specifications of the language. ECMAScript has the goal of defining the ways in which the language is to be used; each browser may either support these specifications or not. Some may even go beyond them, providing a platform that allows features of the language that haven’t yet been released to be used. It is sometimes advised to use the previous version of the specifications as most, or all, browsers typically support them.

There is also Ecma International, which is basically describes how technologies should be used. Formerly ECMA (European Computer Manufacturers Association), Ecma International changed its name to reflect the organization’s global reach.

Today, JavaScript is much more than what it was initially created for. Going beyond animations on websites, it can be found everywhere. It’s used for server code, databases, mobile applications, and there’s even a JavaScript framework for creating virtual reality applications. As Atwood’s law states: “Any application that can be written in JavaScript will eventually be written in JavaScript.”

In tomorrow’s lesson, we’ll learn about the environment, or where to write your code.


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