I made a small research about the history before JavaScript was available to use, but I couldn't find much. I only found several plugins that was used, such as Adobe Flash, ActiveX.

So, what I want is to talk about why those are replaced with JS. Is that because of slow data-parsing, security issues?

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    $\begingroup$ Early general purpose scripting languages include Tcl if 1988 and Lua of 1993. $\endgroup$
    – nwr
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ Please be specific as to the domain of the technology. Do you mean scripting for a web page, or any way to get something dynamic in a web page, or something else? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ Well @Rory Daulton. I know that is a powerful and asynchronous language, and benefit in both client-side and server-side applications. To answer your question - In any aspect. What we replaced with JS? Why JS is better from other older technologies? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ JavaScript is not a technology: it's a software language, derived from similiar languages, and is one of .. I dunno, a couple thousand languages in current use? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft It is not very clear, what is a "technology". My experience is that it is used like a pronoun. :-) All languages, frameworks, development environments are named "technology". $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


Javascript is older than Flash and ActiveX.

Originally, it was developed by the Netscape, as the "small cousine" of the Java.

The "World Wide Web" was originally developed only for static content without client-side dynamical behaviors, and with only zero to little server-side dynamical content.

Javascript became capable to replace Flash & ActiveX only with HTML5 in the early 2010s. Its main reason was that all client-side web programming technologies were closed or in the hands of a single company, Javascript was the only "least common denominator" between the major browser developers.

Thus, initially - roughly at the early nineties - the Javascript didn't replace anything, it was new.

There were still some possibilities for dynamical content, mainly by server-side support, but its possibilities were very weak. For example, images could dynamically created and re-used by sending refreshing http headers with images, and then refer them in <img src=... tags.

The most common technology before the WWW was gopher, which supported only static content, too. At this time, non-graphical user environments were more common, they were remotely used by telnet, or more early, by serial terminals.

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    $\begingroup$ Javascript was not created by "the Sun", assuming you meant Sun Microsystems, and has zero connection to Java or Java's development. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ Javascript was created at Netscape, while Java was created at Sun Microsystems. While both were initially released in 1995, Java was released first (May vs December), and the naming of Javascript was a marketing ploy with the intention of riding the coattails of Java. Javascript was not really designed as a small cousin of Java, and the respective designs differ significantly. $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ @BertWhetstone Right, I fixed that it was created by the Netscape. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ @njuffa Yes the languages significantly differ in the sense that JS is typeless and Java is strongly typed. They do no differ too much in that both are interpreted. Here comes the next problem that no one admits: that Java is an interpreted language (more clearly, a tokenizing one). There are marketingbullshits about the not existing "jit compilation" and similars. But if we see the things as they really are, without any tribal prejudication and wishful thinking, then Java is imho a tokenizing (interpreted) language. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ @njuffa Java was not the java what we today know. It was used mostly to write java applets, i.e. it was used essentially as later flash. It required a huge (maybe 20MB or so) plugin, which had a lot of possible configuration problems. Meanwhile, just putting a <script>alert('Hello world');</script> in a html page made it dynamic on the spot. In this sense, yes Javascript was a small cousin of Java. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 9:15

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