The Prehistory of Java

The Green Project begins looking for a purpose. They discuss what they do and don't like d about various technologies. They take apart many electronic devices, like cable TV set-top boxes and remote controls to find a way for the appliances to talk to each other. They discover that the consumer electronic devices like VCRs and settop boxes all have different CPUs and limited memory.

April, 1991
The Green Project (Naughton, Gosling and Sheridan) settles on smart consumer electronics as the delivery platform. Gosling starts development of a new programming language called Oak, named for the tree outside his window. Loosely based on Objective C, the language was cut to a bare minimum to be able to fit in the limited space in consumer electronic devices. Furthermore, it was explicitly not tied to any particular CPU.

August, 1991
Oak is running its first programs.

Winter, 1991
Gosling and Naughton go skiing at Joy's place in Aspen and demo the system to him.

October, 1992
"*7", a cross between a PDA and a remote control, is ready. This is demoed to Scott McNealy who is blown away. Following that demo, the Green Project is set up as First Person Inc., a wholly owned Sun subsidiary.

Early 1993
The Green Project hears about a Time-Warner request for proposal for a settop box operating system. First Person quickly shifts focus from smart consumer electronics (which is proving to be more hype than reality) to the settop box OS market, and place a bid with Time-Warner. They lose the bid.

Summer 1993
NCSA releases the first version of Mosaic.

Early 1994
First Person concludes that like smart consumer electronics settop boxes were more hype than reality. Without a market to be seen First Person is rolled back into Sun.

However around this time someone realizes that the requirements for smart consumer electronics and settop box software (small, platform independent secure reliable code) are the same requirements for the nascent Web. For a third time the project is redirected, this time at the Web. Patrick Naughton writes a prototype browser called WebRunner in one weekend of inspired hacking.

Early 1995
Gosling gives first public talk about Oak at a conference.

May, 1995
First alpha version of Java released to the general public.

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Copyright 1997 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified Sunday, March 9, 1997