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Sun celebrates the 10th birthday Java

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Software

Java began life as a programming language that let developers create animated images on their Web sites, but it eventually grew into a wide-ranging collection of software and specifications that can be used to write programs on everything from mobile phones to mainframe computers.

In 1995, however, Java struck home with its mantra of "write once, run anywhere," which promised to make life easier for developers, who would no longer have to go through the time-consuming process of compiling their code to run on different types of hardware.

The story of Java includes some fantastic successes, missed opportunities, and a couple of acrimonious lawsuits. "It's been a rocket ride that nobody expected would ever get near this far," said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's president and chief operating officer.

Schwartz's comments came at the low-key 10th birthday party for Java, held in the shadow of the Clock Tower building that dominates Sun's Santa Clara, California, campus.

Java's birthday party felt a bit like a high school reunion as former Sun employees embraced co-workers they had left behind. There was free beer, pink popcorn, and ice cream bars. Sun had set up a dunk tank and even arranged a brief performance by Sun developer Hideya Kawahara, who played a ukulele that had been built to resemble Duke, the black-and-white dancing blob that has served as Java's mascot since its inception.

That Java's 10th birthday would even be remembered seemed an unlikely possibility in 1995. At that time, Java was an obscure technology left over from a failed interactive TV venture called FirstPerson.

But with the World Wide Web taking off, the FirstPerson team somehow managed to convince Sun’s legal department to let it take the unprecedented step of releasing the Java source code to the public.

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