Lesson 3.1. History of JavaScript

Birth of JavaScript

The Netscape web browser dominated the market in the 90s

In the 90s, Netscape Navigator was the most used web browser of its time (Netscape doesn't exist anymore, but it is the ancestor of Mozilla Firefox). At that time, the web pages were static. That is to say, there was no interaction with the user after the page was loaded. To remove this limitation, the Netscape's developers added a new language called LiveScript. LiveScript was inspired by Java (another programming language developed by Sun Microsystem).

Logo of Java, the language that inspired JavaScript

Before its official release, LiveScript was renamed JavaScript to take advantage of the popularity of Java which was then in full rise. If this choice was interesting from a commercial point of view, it remains questionable because of the confusion between Java and JavaScript which are two distinct languages.

Death of JavaScript

When in 1995 Microsoft launched its browser Internet Explorer, Microsoft engineers did some reverse engineering to analyze how JavaScript works and implemented a competing language called JScript.

In the 2000s, developers had to design two versions of their web pages: one for Internet Explorer (with Jscript) and one for Netscape (with JavaScript). On the web pages, logos appeared that recommended one or the other browser.

Netscape and Internet Explorer browser recommendation logo

In the 2000s, there was a rejection of these technologies by developers and users:

Rebirth of JavaScript

Shortly after the release of JavaScript, Netscape requested the standardization of JavaScript with the ECMA (European association for standardizing information and communication systems). The idea was to impose JavaScript as a standard for all browsers. Microsoft, which was in a monopoly situation in the 2000s, did not comply with this
standard and continued to promote JScript.

In the late 2000s, new browsers appeared on the market (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.) These browsers implemented JavaScript because there was an international standard. This resulted in the abandonment of JScript by web developers: JavaScript was standard and supported by the new browsers. In addition, the monopolistic situation and Microsoft's locked-down technologies hindered the community.

For Chrome, Google has completely rewritten a new JavaScript engine called V8. This open source version was much faster than all its competitors. It has been massively adopted and has become the standard in many browsers:

The V8 engine is also at the heart of NodeJS, a language used to create web servers.

The advent of e-commerce and social networks have led to a new boom in of JavaScript. In the 2010s, a new technology has been added to JavaScript: Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). This technology allows to download a part of a web page without reloading the entire content. By example, when a new message is received in a chat, the new message is displayed without the page being completely refreshed (only the new message appears). This technology has finally imposed JavaScript as THE standard of web browsers. Microsoft has finally abandoned JScript: its latest browser (Edge) uses now uses the V8 JavaScript engine developed by Google.


What is the purpose of JavaScript?

Check Bravo ! JavaScript allows interactions with the user, like this quiz for example! Try again...

Pourquoi le moteur JavaScript V8 s'est imposé ?

Check Bravo ! Try again...

Today, which browsers are compatible with JavaScript?

Check Bravo! The most popular browsers use JavaScript. Try again...

With what technologies is the quiz you are taking programmed?

Check Good job! This quiz is written in JavaScript, HTML and CSS! Try again...

See also

Last update : 10/03/2022