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The History of JavaScript: Everything You Need to Know

The browser is slowly becoming a whole new target for compiling apps, and JavaScript is at the center of it. However, there are certain limitations that not even Asm.js can resolve.

It would be necessary to make changes to JavaScript that have nothing to do with its purpose. To make the web a proper target for other languages something different is needed, and that is exactly what WebAssembly is.

History of JavaScript - WebAssembly


WebAssembly is a bytecode for the web. Any program with a suitable compiler can be compiled to WebAssembly and run on a suitable virtual machine (JavaScript virtual machines can provide the necessary semantics).

In fact, the first versions of WebAssembly aims at 1-on-1 compatibility with the Asm.js specification.

WebAssembly not only brings the promise of faster load times (bytecode can be parsed faster than text), but possible optimizations not available at the moment in Asm.js.

Imagine a web of perfect interoperability between JavaScript and your existing code. At first sight, this might appear to compromise the growth of JavaScript, but in fact it is quite the contrary.

By making it easier for other languages and frameworks to be interoperable with JavaScript, JavaScript can continue its growth as a general purpose language. And WebAssembly is the necessary tool for that.


The history of JavaScript has been long and full of bumps. It was proposed as a “Scheme for the web”. Early on it got Java-like syntax strapped on. Its first prototype was developed in a matter of weeks.

It suffered the perils of marketing and got three names in less than two years. It was then standardized and got a name that sounded like a skin disease. After three successful releases, the fourth got caught up in development hell for almost 8 years.

Fingers got pointed around. Then, by the sheer success of a single feature (AJAX), the community got its act back together and development was resumed. Version 4 was scrapped and a minor revision, known by everyone as version 3.1, got renamed to version 5.

Version 6 spent many years in development (again) but this time the committee succeeded, but nonetheless decided to change the name again, this time to 2015. This revision was big and took a lot of time to get implemented.

But finally, new air was breathed into JavaScript. The community is as active as ever. Node.js, V8 and other projects have brought JavaScript to places it was never thought for. Asm.js, WebAssembly are about to take it even further.

The huge companies that dominate the technical landscape have repeatedly tried to supplant JavaScript. First Sun, then Microsoft (VBScript), then Adobe, then Microsoft again (Silverlight), then Google, and then, arguably with TypeScript, Microsoft yet again. And yet JavaScript continues to thrive.

And the active proposals in different stages are all making JavaScript’s future as bright as ever. It’s been a long road, full of bumps, and JavaScript is still one of the most successful languages ever. That’s a testament in itself. Always bet on JavaScript.

JavaScript has become the de-facto standard programming language of the Web, not only because of its first-mover advantage, but because it is open, standardized, and, most importantly a very good language; well-suited to the Web with its dynamic nature and tight integration with the DOM.

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Sunil Pradhan

Hi there 👋 My name is Sunil and I'm a front-end developer who loves to help others by simplifying web-dev related topics.

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Sunil Pradhan

Hi there 👋 My name is Sunil and I'm a front-end developer who loves to help others by simplifying web-dev related topics.