History of JavaScript

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History of JavaScript

JavaScript has been around since the mid-nineties and is still one of the most popular programming languages among developers. If we wander back to the days of simple interactions online, it’s clear to see how far we’ve come!

Here we’ll explore the History of JavaScript and take a look at the value it delivers to end-users today.

Earliest beginnings

In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. It was initially intended as a way of sharing data and information around the globe. Berners-Lee introduced URIs, HTTP and HTML and these were quickly adopted by fellow developers to create increasingly interesting presentations of data online.

The Mosaic web browser and Netscape Navigator were the earliest browsers developed to support the growth of the internet. They were released in 1993 and 1994 respectively, with the Navigator quickly becoming the most widely adopted browser of choice. However, Microsoft brought its Internet Explorer browser to the market with force, so a popularity race ensued between the two providers.

As more users began adopting technology, the demand for more interactive experiences grew too.

The birth of JavaScript

In 1995, a developer who worked on the Netscape Navigator created a new language called Mocha. Brandan Eich’s new coding language was later known as LiveScript and finally became JavaScript.

Incredibly, Eich’s new programming language took a little over a week to create, and we’re still using JavaScript over twenty years later.

The language continued to evolve as more developers began using it. It wasn’t without its flaws though; for example each time a user clicked something, the entire page would need to re-load.

Then, in 1996, Microsoft introduced the iFrame tag. It allowed information to be retrieved in the background, without affecting the user’s experience in the front-end.

In 2005, a user experience designer called Jesse James Garrett, publicly used the term Ajax to describe asynchronous web applications. The term ‘asynchronous’ means that users can request an action, like downloading data or loading interactive content, and continue their journey on the web page whilst the request is in progress.

Today, this is an action that we don’t even consider as users, and it shows the enormous evolution of web technology since the early days of JavaScript and HTML.

Java versus JavaScript

You may have heard the term ‘Java’ before and perhaps assumed this is an abbreviation of JavaScript? The two are actually completely different frameworks.

Java is a server-side language used mostly in the creation of mobile apps. Whilst JavaScript is a browser-led language that allows developers to create interactive experiences in dynamic and exciting ways.

Adobe Flash was a recent predecessor of JavaScript. Users needed to download Flash as a plug-in so they could watch videos or view animations on-screen. As browsers and web experiences evolved, Flash became slow and clunky to use. Newer devices no longer supported the use of Flash and finally in 2017, Adobe announced its end-of-life, and it was discontinued in 2020.

JavaScript in the present day

These days, end users stream videos and download images at lightning speed. They observe playful engagements on-screen, like microinteractions and dynamic content, without a second thought. JavaScript has revolutionised our online experiences and provided exciting ways to consume content.

Until recently, the functionality and styling that powers the back-end of most websites relied on CSS and HTML. Now, using Node.js, many JavaScript developers are able to create both back-end and front-end experiences.

Developers continue to favour JavaScript because it’s easy to learn and provides great flexibility for creating interactive user experiences.

APIs and JavaScript

Far removed from the History of JavaScript, these days users don’t need to wait for pages to load when they want to view, stream or download dynamic content.

This is thanks, in large part, due to the use of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). With APIs, developers are able to connect completely unrelated interfaces so they interact with each other.

For example, when you’re shopping online and you ‘checkout’ your basket, an API may connect the commerce site you’re shopping on with a third party payment platform. You might not even realise this is happening as you input your credit card details, thanks to the slick JavaScript interface and seamless API integration.

Full-stack JavaScript development

Full-stack development combines the server-side (behind the scenes) and client-side (what you can see) aspects that power a website or application.

In order to serve users the best possible experience, many development agencies use JavaScript to write both the server-side and client-side aspects of their websites and apps. This gives flexibility to create almost any kind of interactive experience. Critically, it also means that the user’s experience is as slick and quick as possible.

There are a few JavaScript frameworks to choose from. At Digital Detox, we’ll always opt for the most suitable framework that meets the end-user’s needs and provides the best experience. From React and Angular to Ember and Vue, we’re spoilt for choice - far removed from the limited options of the nineties!

About Digital Detox

Digital Detox is a full-stack development agency with a proven track record of successful projects and relationships. Our clients rely on us to provide a consultative service that meets the needs of the business, their clients and end-users.

We combine development best practice with significant experience to deliver dazzling digital experiences. Our focus on digital sustainability sets us apart from most other digital agencies and we’re proud to work alongside large enterprise organisations and small startups who are passionate about taking a sustainable approach to digital transformation.

Visit our Case Studies section to find out more about what we do or get in touch to discuss your own objectives.