So far, in previous posts, we have discussed the features of Java referring to its very first version, JDK 1.0. Over time, Java has grown and expanded a lot and has had many new features added to its repertoire.
In this post, we discuss the way Java has evolved over the last decade and a half. As mentioned earlier, although Java started as a programming language for embedded devices, it has evolved into a full-fledged platform used in majority of the sectors. We will look at the major milestones in Java’s evolution to its current state. Java is distributed in the form of a Java Development Kit (JDK). The several milestones in Java’s evolution are identified by the version number assigned to this JDK.
This was the first version of Java, released officially in January 23, in 1996. Prior to that Java was known as “Oak” and was mainly used internally by Sun for the development of embedded software.
Embedded devices demanded portability across a wide variety of hardware and a small footprint; Java carries both these capabilities. JDK 1.0 itself was really small, with about:
· 212 Classes
· 8 User Packages
With one additional Sun package for debugging. A Java package provides a logical grouping of classes and interfaces.
Thus, this version of Java had very limited capabilities and was no match for the libraries provided in other languages at that time. The user interface provided in the java.awt (Abstract Windowing Toolkit) package was too primitive and did not even provide a printing facility. In spite of a small feature set, Java usage picked up early in the market and within less than a year of its introduction Java became extremely popular and hot .
The success behind Java at that time was due to the increasing popularity of the Internet. Web pages back then did not possess dynamic capabilities; the web pages were only static. Java applets provided dynamic content generation and interactive capabilities for web pages. Every copy of the Netscape browser provided a Java runtime. An applet is a small Internet-based program, written in Java that can be downloaded by any computer.
Thus, developers were able to reach a massive user base very easily by writing Java applets. This resulted in the enormous popularity and quick acceptance of Java. JDK 1.0 also provided classes for network programming, and Java was hyped at that time as a network programming language.