Javascript evokes strong emotions among the developers. Whether you love it or loathe it, there is no denying that it has some piece of your grey matter. It was created at Netscape in a ten-day hack, steadily became the world’s most widely used programming language. This paper tells the story of the creation, design, evolution, and standardization of the JavaScript language over the period of 1995–2015. But the story is not only about the technical details of the language. It is also the story of how people and organizations competed and collaborated to shape the JavaScript language which dominates the Web of 2020.

JavaScript: The First 20 Years by Allen Wirfs-Brock and Brendan Eich is a HOPL (History of Programming Languages) paper submitted to ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) for June 2020 publication in the PACMPL (Proceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages) and presentation at the HOPL 4 conference. Interestingly this paper is about 190 page long 🙂

The HOPL series produces accurate historical records and descriptions of programming language design, development, and philosophy. HOPL-IV wll be only the 4th HOPL. Previous HOPLs occurred in 1978, 1993, and 2007. HOPL papers can be quite long. As the HOPL-IV call for papers says, “Because of the complex nature of the history of programming languages, there is no upper bound on the length of submitted papers—authors should strive for completeness”. HOPL papers are often authored by the original designers of an important language or individuals who have made significant contributions to the evolution of a language.

“History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.”
-Kurt Vonnegut