Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle) developed the Java language and released it in 1995. It had the same vision in that the Web should be dynamic. To that end, it developed something called Java applets, which are Java programs that can be served with HTML pages and run by the browser. This of course requires browser support for the Java runtime to run the applets. These programs can then change the HTML page and potentially access system services.
A company called Netscape (acquired by Verizon Communications) had a very successful Web browser called Netscape Navigator. Sun wanted that browser to have built-in support for Java applets. They pressured Netscape to close a deal as soon as possible to prop up marketing Java. Netscape needed to develop its language for the future Web urgently. But they didn’t want for that language to have an existential competition with Java applets. Instead, they wanted to have a language that it would make sense to exist side-by-side with Java applets. This helps in making a profitable deal with Sun while at the same time, be part of the dynamic Web revolution.
- Its syntax must be similar to Java. This benefits both companies because those who learn one language will be able to quickly learn the other.
- It must be a simple language so that it’s easy to learn by HTML and CSS designers, but powerful enough to support sophisticated use cases. So it has to be dynamically typed and follow the functional style. The semantics of the language are similar to Scheme and Self.