JavaScript, A Brief History

Now that we know some of the basics of JS and have messed around some, it’s important to understand some history of the language, where it came from, and how it evolved.

Please note that this is intended to be extremely basic and simply provide a general overview for those newer to the language.

What It Is

JavaScript is a dynamic programming language most commonly found in web browsers and web applications. It allows for running scripts client side, interact with the web page, and do things in an asynchronous nature. More recently it has found popularity on the server side with node.js and even in NoSQL databases, such as MongoDB. One can become a full stack engineer with just JS.

JavaScript is a prototype-based scripting language with dynamic typing and first-class functions. This makes JS a very flexible language, allowing for object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles. It was traditionally implemented as an interpreted language, but nowadays it should be considered just-in-time-compiled.

How It Came To Be

JavaScript, which has nothing to do with Java, was created in ten days in May of 1995 by Brendan Eich who was working at Netscape, the leading Browser at the time. It was originally named Mocha, changed to LiveScript, and eventually by the end of ’95 the name JavaScript was adopted. This was sort of a marketing ploy at the time, since Java was very popular (and still is), but they really are not related.

Soon after being released JavaScript was taken to Ecma, an international private (membership-based) non-profit standards organization for information and communication systems to create a specification. For our purposes JavaScript and ECMAScript will be the same thing, though really ECMAScript is the specification, whereas JavaScript is the implementation.

Fast forward to 2005. This is the year AJAX was termed by Jesse James Garrett, and many technologies were born which created a resurgence in JS, as well as a shift from static sites, to the dynamic and robust user experiences we have today, such as geolocation and single page loads, Gmail being the first major implementation of this. This is also the time John Resig was working on jQuery, which was released in 2006. In December 2009 ECMAScript 5 came to be.

In June of 2015, ECMAScript 6 was released, though version 5 is the most prevalent and will need to be supported for many years to come. Future specifications are being developed, and as features are agreed upon and implemented they may become available to use, but won’t be officially released until the next version. With the renaissance of JS, the release of HTML5, and development efforts on the node platform we should expect to see releases much more frequently.

I hope you enjoyed this bonus weekend post. Sometimes it's nice to step away from the code and soak in some general knowledge.

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