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Java, originally called Oak, was developed by James Gosling, Patrick Naughton, and Mike Sheridan as part of Sun's Green Project, which began in December 1990. Chartered to explore the next wave of computing, the group quickly came to the conclusion that the convergence of digitally controlled consumer devices and computers would be one wave for Sun to catch.
Using Oak, the processor-independent language developed by Gosling, the group designed and built a SPARC-based, handheld wireless PDA, known as the *7 ("star seven"), with a five-inch color LCD and touch-screen input. The *7 was finished and demoed in September 1992 (see Figure 1). However, while the *7 was considered interesting technology, Oak became the thing of most interest. The language was able to control a wide range of entertainment platforms and appliances while displaying animation. This was the beginning of what has grown into the Java platform.
Figure 1. The original
Over the next few years, the nascent Java language grew within Sun as the Java development team grew to about 30 engineers. On May 23, 1995 John Gage, director of Sun's science office, and Marc Andreesen, cofounder and then executive vice president at Netscape, announced to a SunWorld audience that Java technology was real, official, and going to be incorporated into Netscape Navigator. At the time, the entire Java technology team numbered less than 30 people. Needless to say, in order to grow the platform to the point where it could be a viable candidate for enterprise-level application development, an enormous amount of work still needed to be done.
In many ways, Sun's JMAPI (Java Management API) efforts can be considered as pioneering as SNM was in its day (see Java in the Management Sphere, Part 1). The approach, to create a management framework that behaved much like traditional management infrastructures (like, for instance, those from Tivoli or Computer Associates), but entirely written in Java, was as viable as it was compelling -- at the time.