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Java at 20: How it changed programming forever

Elliotte Rusty Harold | May 22, 2015
Java synthesized sound ideas, repackaging them in a practical format that turned on a generation of coders.

Twenty years since its inception, Java is no longer the scrappy upstart. It has become the entrenched incumbent other languages rebel against. Lighter-weight languages like Ruby and Python have made significant inroads into Java's territory, especially in the startup community where speed of development counts for more than robustness and scale -- a trade-off that Java itself took advantage of in the early days when performance of virtual machines severely lagged compiled code.

Java, of course, is not standing still. Oracle continues to incorporate well-proven technologies from other languages such as generics, autoboxing, enumerations, and, most recently, lambda expressions. Many programmers first encountered these ideas in Java. Not every programmer knows Java, but whether they know it or not, every programmer today has been influenced by it.


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