By Vangie Beal
Java is a general purpose, high-level programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. The Java programming language was developed by a small team of engineers, known as the Green Team, who initiated the language in 1991.
Originally called OAK, the Java language was designed for handheld devices and set-top boxes. Oak was unsuccessful and in 1995 Sun changed the name to Java and modified the language to take advantage of the burgeoning World Wide Web.
Later, in 2009, Oracle Corporation acquired Sun Microsystems and took ownership of two key Sun software assets: Java and Solaris.
Today the Java platform is a commonly used foundation for developing and delivering content on the web. According to Oracle, there are more than 9 million Java developers worldwide and more than 3 billion mobile phones run Java.
Java is an Object-Oriented Language
Java is defined as an object-oriented language similar to C++, but simplified to eliminate language features that cause common programming errors. The source code files (files with a .java extension) are compiled into a format called bytecode (files with a .class extension), which can then be executed by a Java interpreter. Compiled Java code can run on most computers because Java interpreters and runtime environments, known as Java Virtual Machines (VMs), exist for most operating systems, including UNIX, the Macintosh OS, and Windows. Bytecode can also be converted directly into machine language instructions by a just-in-time compiler (JIT). In 2007, most Java technologies were released under the GNU General Public License.
Recommended Reading: Webopedia Study Guides – Java Basics: Variables, Syntax and Conventions and Java Basics Part 2: Operators, Modifiers and Structures.
Java on the Web
As a general purpose programming language, Java offers a number of features that make the language well suited for use on the Web. Small Java applications, called applets, can be downloaded from a web server and run on your computer by a Java-compatible Web browser.
Applications and websites using Java will not work unless Java is installed on your device. When you download Java, the software contains the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) which is needed to run in a Web browser. A component of the JRE, the Java Plug-in software allows Java applets to run inside various browsers.
Download Java Free
The official website provides links to freely download the latest version of Java. You can use the Oracle Java website to learn more about downloading Java, verify Java is installed on your computer, remove older versions, troubleshoot Java or or report an issue. After installing Java, you will need to restart your Web browser.
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