AN INTRODUCTION TO JAVA
The first release of Java in 1996 generated an incredible amount of excitement, notjust in the computer press, but in mainstream media such as The New York Times, TheWashington Post, and Business Week. Java has the distinction of being the first and only programming language that had a ten-minute story on National Public Radio. A$100,000,000 venture capital fund was set up solely for products produced by use of aspecific computer language. It is rather amusing to revisit those heady times, and wegive you a brief history of Java in this section. Java As a Programming Platform
Initially, we had this to write about Java:
“As a computer language, Java’s hype is overdone: Java is certainly a good programming language. There is no doubt that it is one of the better languages available toserious programmers. We think it could potentially have been a great programming language, but it is probably too late for that. Once a language is out in the field, the uglyreality of compatibility with existing code sets in.”
Our editor got a lot of flack for this paragraph from someone very high up at Sun Microsystems who shall remain unnamed. But, in hindsight, our prognosis seems accurate. Java has a lot of nice language features.It has its share of warts, and newer additions to the language are not as elegant as the original ones because of the ugly reality of compatibility.
But, as we already said in the first edition, Java was never just a language. There are lotsof programming languages out there, and few of them make much of a splash. Java is awhole platform, with a huge library, containing lots of reusable code, and an execution environment that provides services such as security, portability across operating systems,and automatic garbage collection.
As a programmer, you will want a language with a pleasant syntax and compre hensible semantics (i.e., not C++). Java fits the bill, as do dozens of other fine languages. Some languages give you portability, garbage collection, and the like, but they don’t havemuch of a library, forcing you to roll your own if you want fancy graphics or networking or database access. Well, Java has everything—a good language, a high-quality execution environment, and a vast library. That combination is what makes Java anirresistible proposition to so many programmers.