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Jovial, JCL, Java and Javascript

J is for Jovial, JCL, Java and Javascript.

Jovial is rather like Cobol in that it is very widely used in one huge market (software for US DOD systems) and has almost non-existent usage outside that market. I have always heard it described as Fortran-like, however it shares many keywords with Algol 60 and some of the letters from its acronym name are the original name used for Algol (International Algorithmic Language). The design of Jovial was contemporary with both languages and I imagine that there was lots of cross fertilization between the design groups.

JCL (Job Control Language) is what the non-Unix world calls shell scripts.

Java is a child of the Internet. Yes, there were a lot of people unhappy with C++ and very willing to jump ship, but the Internet made the marketing slogan “write once, run anywhere” sound like it truly was the future (which it might well be for some language at some future date).

Java was a wake-up call to compiler vendors who had not being paying attention to the impact that Open source was having on the market. Those who followed the time honored tradition of bolting a new language on to the front of their existing product line soon found they could not sell against free; the sound of scales falling from eyes could be heard around the world.

Up until Java arrived the two ways of making money from a language were selling compilers and training; neither were big enough money spinners to be of interest to a company as large as Sun Microsystems. Word was that Sun thought they could make money from Java, exactly how was never spelled out (but Oracle are certainly going for it). The Java Study Group was set up to investigate the possibility of creating an ISO standard for Java. Sun’s enthusiasm for the work of this group became crystal clear during what was supposed to be a two day meeting at Sun’s offices in Cupertino; half way through the first day we were told that no meeting room was available to host us on the second day, a flurry of phone calls resulted in a meeting room being found for the second day, down the round at Apple. The minutes thank both hosts, with no mention of an abrupt switch of venue.

Javascript would not have existed without the Internet and its ‘design’ must be a contender for the most costly software mistake ever made.

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