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The History and
Evolution of Java
T
o fully understand Java, one must understand the reasons behind its creation, the
forces that shaped it, and the legacy that it inherits. Like the successful computer
languages that came before, Java is a blend of the best elements of its rich heritage
combined with the innovative concepts required by its unique mission. While the remaining
chapters of this topic describe the practical aspects of Java--including its syntax, key libraries,
and applications--this chapter explains how and why Java came about, what makes it so
important, and how it has evolved over the years.
Although Java has become inseparably linked with the online environment of the
Internet, it is important to remember that Java is first and foremost a programming language.
Computer language innovation and development occurs for two fundamental reasons:
To adapt to changing environments and uses
To implement refinements and improvements in the art of programming
As you will see, the development of Java was driven by both elements in nearly equal
measure.
Java's Lineage
Java is related to C++, which is a direct descendant of C. Much of the character of Java
is inherited from these two languages. From C, Java derives its syntax. Many of Java's
object-oriented features were influenced by C++. In fact, several of Java's defining
characteristics come from--or are responses to--its predecessors. Moreover, the creation of
Java was deeply rooted in the process of refinement and adaptation that has been occurring
in computer programming languages for the past several decades. For these reasons, this
section reviews the sequence of events and forces that led to Java. As you will see, each
innovation in language design was driven by the need to solve a fundamental problem
that the preceding languages could not solve. Java is no exception.
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