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JavaScript Origins / Overview

Netscape (which superceded Mosaic) was launched in 1994. In its early form, the browser was primarily a tool to display static textual/graphical information and to initiate downloads.  Netscape wanted to add dynamic capability to its browser and started to develop its own language called LiveScript. In late 1995, Java was becoming popular so Netscape and Sun agreed to rename the language to JavaScript, apparently for marketing reasons.

JavaScript is a language primarily intended to run in a browser (such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer) on the client machine. JavaScript is a language of limited size that is integrated into HTML documents. Some of the major uses of JavaScript include:

JavaScript executes interpretively. Unlike Java (which can execute as a standalone program), JavaScript executes only within a browser.

JavaScript also provides server-side additions which can connect to databases and communicate with other applications. Client-side use of JavaScript is far more prevalent and that capability will be the focus of the discussion on this site.

Microsoft has its own version of JavaScript for Internet Explorer called JScript. In most areas, the languages are compatible (like the corresponding browsers). However, there are differences between in how different browsers support JavaScript coding.

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