Java is one of the most popular programming languages, with 9 million reported developers last year and furthermore, the programming language of choice for Android apps.
Its popularity and far reach is a result of the easiness of learning and using it, in parallel with its versatility – Java can be used to build small applets for a single web page, as long as to create complex applications to run on a single computer or to be distributed among servers and clients in a network that has a Java Virtual Machine (JVM).
Java was originally developed in 1991, by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems, and intended to be used by the digital cable television industry. Initially, Gosling named the language Oak, after an oak tree that stood outside his office. A potential trademark dispute with Oak Technology, resulted in a 1995 brainstorming session, attended by all members of the Live Oak Group, actively working on the new language, drawing up a list of around 10 possible names for Sun’s lingua franca. The sessions was later described by Gosling as: “Lots of people just yelled out words”.
So where did Java come from and how did it make its way to the winners’ list?
Arthur van Hoff, a senior engineer on the project, explains: “We had been in the meeting for hours and, while he [Chris Warth] was drinking a cup of Peet’s Java, he picked ‘Java’ as an example of yet another name that would never work”.
Yes, the object-oriented language is named after coffee, and in particular, after the strong, dark, sweet coffee beans produced on Java and nearby Indonesian islands.
The new brand name was considered easy to be cleared through trademark and accepted positively by test-marketing focus groups and later that year, Sun Microsystems released the first public implementation of the programming language under the name Java 1.0.
With The San Jose Mercury News reporting in its March 1995 issue on the investment behind it, along with the long name-picking process: “Java is the result of six years of work, at least that many name changes and millions and millions of dollars”.
Followed by a PC Week’s review of the main features and usage: “Developers can use Sun’s Java language to build applications that run on client machines and access files over widely distributed corporate networks and the Internet as if they were stored on a local hard disk’”.
The Java coffee was first recorded in English print in 1764, in Adam Anderson’s An historical and chronological deduction of the origin of commerce: “Twelve thousand three hundred and sixty-eight pounds from Mocha: so greatly had they improved their Java coffee”.
Later the term Java came to name coffee in generally (first attested in 1805, in US slang), and 22 years after its debut, Java’s coffee cup logo is just anywhere.