The programming world has a lot of technical terms, and if you are a software developer you will need to get familiarized with them. Java and JavaScript are terms I often got confused about whenever people in the industry talked about them interchangeably. That’s why I decided to write this article to clarify what each of the terms means.

Are Java and JavaScript the same? Java and JavaScript are two different programming languages created to develop different kinds of software solutions. The fact that both programming languages share the first four letters of each word (J-A-V-A).

What is Java?

Java is an object-oriented programming language created by James Gosling in 1991 and released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. Java was developed with the promise of “writing (code) once, and running it anywhere” (WORA). This means you can develop Java code in any system, and run it in any Java-enabled system without making changes to the code.

But… How is it possible to do that? Java uses a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to run the code. Having said that, the only requirement needed is to have JVM as part of any system where the Java code will run. If you are wondering why Java was a big deal back then, and still nowadays, it is because prior to its existence, other programming languages, such as C, required changes so it could be understood by different hardware.

Did you know Java had other names?

When James Gosling started working on Java, the project was initially called “Greentalk”, explaining why the initial file extensions ended in .gt. The language in itself was initially called “Oak”. The reason they gave this name didn’t have anything to do with the language. Instead, they gave this name after an oak tree that stood outside Gosling’s office. However, they had to change the name as Oak had a trademark by Oak Technologies. After the following talks, it was decided to name the language Java.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a scripting language created by Brendan Eich in 1995. In simple words, JavaScript is the programming language that makes a website “alive”, or, in other words, gives functionality to a website. A website is composed of three main moving pieces: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  • HTML gives the structure of the website.
  • CSS allows you to style a website.
  • JavaScript adds functionality to the website such as displaying popups, making requests to the server after form submission, and more.

The first version of JavaScript was developed in 10 days

Nowadays, JavaScript is used in other kinds of applications besides the initial reason it was created. Software engineers can develop entire Application Programming Interfaces or (API)s, where the main core logic of software resides, sometimes understood as the backend of an application.

The language was not named as JavaScript from the beginning either

Similar to Java, JavaScript was not the original name. Initially, the programming language was called Mocha. In September 1995, it was renamed LiveScript. Four months later, it was named JavaScript.

Why Did They Name Java and JavaScript Very Similar?

Without any doubt, the major cause of confusion between these two programming languages is the Java prefix. The funny part is there are not many similarities when it comes to the two languages. However, there is an explanation as to why their names are similar.

If you noticed, Java and JavaScript release was in 1995. Java was released by Sun Microsystems, which later got acquired by Oracle. JavaScript was released by Netscape. It happens to be that the two companies joined forces on April 11 of the same year.

What Are The Differences?

Statically Typed.Dynamically Typed.
Class-based object-oriented programming language.Prototype-based inheritance programming language. It can still be used as an object-oriented language.
Widely used for enterprise applications.Widely used for web applications and hybrid mobile applications.
Supports multithreading.Doesn’t support multithreading.
Can be executed on a virtual machine. Java can be run in the browser using Java Applets, but this practice is almost obsolete.Can be executed in the browser and on a virtual machine.
Java code is compiled and interpretedJavaScript code is interpreted only as it is a scripting language
Relatively easy to learn as the community, online resources, and documentation are extensive.Relatively easy to learn as the community, online resources, and documentation are extensive.
Java and JavaScript Differences

Should I learn Java or JavaScript?

Java and JavaScript are both excellent programming languages to learn. I recommend anyone is who is interested in becoming a software developer to first decide what kind of development they want to program, for example, game development, mobile application development, web application development, web design, backend development, crypto development, etc.

Primarily, Java gives you the possibility to develop:

  • Android applications
  • Web applications
  • Desktop or Standalone applications
  • Enterprise applications
  • Game applications

JavaScript was initially limited to a few types of development as its main focus was to run in the browser. However, with the exponential growth of JavaScript libraries and frameworks, JavaScript can give you more options besides developing web applications: