James Gosling, the father of Java, one of the world’s most widely used programming languages, has talked with research scientist Lex Fridman about Java’s origins and his motivations for creating a language that would be used on tens of billions of devices and become central to the development of Android at Google.
Gosling designed Java 25 years ago while at Sun Microsystems. In 2009, Java would be one of the key reasons Oracle acquired Sun. According to Oracle, today there are 51 billion active Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) deployed globally.
But long before Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, Gosling said he and a team at Sun “kind of worried that there was stuff going on in the universe of computing that the computing industry was missing out on” – what would become today’s Internet of Things.
“It was all about what was happening in terms of computing hardware, processors and networking that was outside the computing industry,” he said.
“That was everything from the early glimmers of cell phones that were happening then to – you look at elevators and locomotives and process-control systems in factories and all kinds of audio and video equipment.
“They all had processors in them they were all doing stuff with them and it felt like there was something going on there that we needed to understand.”
At that stage C and C++ “absolutely owned the universe” and everything was being written in those languages.
Gosling says his team went on several “epic road trips” around 1990 to visit Toshiba, Sharp, Mitsubishi and Sony in Japan, Samsung and several other South Korean companies, and went “all over Europe” to visit the likes of Philips, Siemens and Thomson.
“One of the things that leapt out was that they were doing all the usual computer things that people