A Brief History and Evolution of JavaScript

Abhimanyu Magapu
~ 6 mins min read | Published on Mar 23, 2023





The Three most well known languages in the world are English, Mandarin, and JavaScript.

Looking at the vast world of software development, the scripting language that stands out is JavaScript. Despite facing multiple challenges, Javascript has gained much popularity over the years.

Let's dive into the history and evolution of JavaScript and see why it has become the most popular coding language in the world.

History- Javascript

The World Wide Web was created in 1990 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. This first web browser version only worked on the proprietary version of NeXT computers.

Before the mid-1990s, the web was not much of a significant force. There was no primary language in the space other than HTML, the primary means of making web pages.

To change this, the National Center of Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) released the world's first popular web browser, the NCSA Mosaic.

National Center of Supercomputing Applications - Mosaic

Mosaic's competition was a company called Netscape, built by Marc Andreessen and many former NCSA employees and developers. They rolled out another web browser called the Netscape Navigator. But this browser was slow, and its web pages were static. They solved this by collaborating with Sun Microsystems to embed the Java programming language and hiring Brendan Eich to embed the Schema language.

In 1995, Brendan created the first version of JavaScript-called Mocha, in ten days. A better version was soon released and was called LiveScript. Due to marketing reasons, the name was changed from LiveScript to JavaScript, as Java was the programming language trending at that time. This was released in December 1995.

Evolution of JavaScript Frameworks - at a glance

JavaScript Development

In 1996, Microsoft released JScript, which was based on LiveScript but had many fundamental differences. As a result, websites must either support one browser over another or rely on extensive code libraries to create a standardized API in Internet Explorer and Netscape.

In November 1996, Netscape submitted JavaScript to ECMA International to standardize JavaScript and get it adopted by developers.

Standardized code snippet for javascript

This brought about ECMAScript, which uses most of JavaScript's original syntax and has served as the standard for JavaScript ever since. In 1997, ECMA released ECMAScript 1.0, which is now referred to as JavaScript. ECMAScript 2.0 or ES2 was released the following year with minor changes to keep up with the ISO standards for the language.

Even though developers were adopting JavaScript worldwide, building websites for Netscape and internet explorer was tedious. This was addressed by ES3, which came out in December 1999, 18 months after ES2.

ECMAScript 3 features many changes and introduced the language's regular expression and exception handling features that we see today. Plans to build ES4 were announced immediately after the release of ES3, but they were soon abandoned in 2003 when the project was announced closed.

While ECMAScript 4 was abandoned, the successor to ECMAScript 3 called ES5 was released in 2009 with many new features and the ability to pair with JSON files. ECMAScript 6 was released in 2015 but was renamed ECMAScript 2015, and this naming pattern has continued for the latest releases of the JavaScript standard.

At the time of writing, ECMAScript 2022 is the latest version of JavaScript set to release later this year.

Frameworks and Core of the Language

JavaScript frameworks have been a crucial part of its evolution and popularity.

DHTML

The first framework of JavaScript was released in 1997 and was called DHTML and was released in internet explorer 4.0

DHTML is a combination of HTML, CSS and JS

It is the combination of HTML, CSS, JS, and DOM. The DHTML uses a Dynamic object model to make changes in settings, properties, and methods.

DHTML does the same job that you use CSS to do today and its pages are request/reload-based. It is also considered the predecessor of Ajax.

jQuery

Since JavaScript had limited support on web browsers, many developers relied on vast libraries of code to bridge the gaps between different web browsers.

jQuery was the biggest of these libraries. It was released in 2006 and was built to help programmers build sophisticated web pages. This was a big step for JavaScript as it created much-needed cross-browser compatibility and made it much easier to write in JavaScript. jQuery was considered synonymous with JavaScript at one point, but this all changed in 2013 with the release of ReactJs.

ReactJs

Before the introduction of React, people used libraries and frameworks like jQuery or just vanilla JavaScript, but this changed entirely with ReactJs in 2013. React is an open source, front-end library responsible only for the application's view layer. React was developed by Facebook(now meta) and was later used in Facebook and WhatsApp mobile apps.

It not only improved JavaScript capabilities but changed them entirely. One of its features was that it allowed you to modify templates in jsx(JavaScript syntax extension) and dynamically update data whenever you change it.

AngularJs

AngularJS was a JavaScript framework developed in 2009 for single-page applications (SPAs). An SPA is a site that dynamically rewrites a page rather than loading whole new pages for each change. It provides a complete architecture for front-end applications for its developers. Angular JS was developed by Google and maintained by them until it was replaced with Angular2.

As JavaScript became mainstream, the need arose for a way to run it outside of a browser. Node.JS, a set of tools for running JavaScript server-side was also part of this.

NodeJs

NodeJs played a crucial role in changing the course of Javascript history. It was released in 2009 as a part of chrome's version of JavaScript. Node.js allowed developers to use JavaScript to make web servers, command-line tools, and more. NodeJs runs memory efficient programming which is single-threaded & asynchronous and is also non-blocking.

Instead of blocking the thread and wasting CPU cycles waiting, while performing tasks such as performing an I/O operation, reading from the network, accessing a database or the filesystem. Node.js will resume the operations when the response comes back.

Working of Node.js on server-side

Today, Node.js serves as one of the world's most used server-side development technologies. It brings dynamism to JavaScript's client-side-focused nature.

Where are we with JavaScript now?

Work on the language has continued for many years, culminating in an extensive collection of additions and refinements formalized with the publication of ECMAScript 12 in June 2021.

The current JavaScript ecosystem has many libraries, frameworks, established programming practices, and substantial JavaScript usage outside web browsers.

Around 98% of all websites use JavaScript as the dominant client-side scripting language. All major web browsers have a built-in JavaScript engine that executes the code on the user's device.

Why is JavaScript the Most Popular Language In the World?

JavaScript can run almost everywhere, including mobiles, laptops, and computers. This ability makes JavaScript a universal language.

JavaScript has been around for 25 years and has a vast community behind it. It has so many frameworks and plugins that the name "framework fatigue was coined." It enjoys almost universal popularity because it is arguably the only language your browser understands. JavaScript is backward compatible; any website made today will, in theory, work 50 years into the future.

All of these features contribute to its massive popularity. JavaScript is here to stay; the steady growth of the modern frontend network continues to cement its position as one of the most popular coding languages.

Conclusion

JavaScript has come a really long way from being written in 10 days to becoming the most used programming language in the world. It has a long way to go, and the language will continue to become better.

Errors in your code while building your website can be highly frustrating and bog down your progress. Debugging your mistakes can be a nightmare and take up much of your time. Learn more about JavaScript errors here.

Zipy is an intelligent AI that helps you catch, fix and debug errors in your code and website in real-time. It also detects and fixes client and server-side errors and greatly simplifies the process of building a website.

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