What Is Java? | Breaking Down Its Definition, History, Benefits, & Applications

The Java programming language is a multiuse, multithreaded language. It has also been one of the foremost computer programming languages since Sun Microsystems developed it in 1995.

The Java development platform is a workhorse of the digital world. It gives would-be Java developers the ability to do almost anything they set their minds to, as long as they know how to use it.

Let’s answer the question: "What is Java? " We’ll review the Java platform and the different Java programs and see how the Java language compares to other programming languages.

What Is Java?

To answer the question, “ What is Java? ” we need to look at what it was made to do, who it helps, and what services the programming language offers to Java developers today.

Java is an object-oriented programming language with millions of users across the globe. It is well-known for being a platform-independent language and a computing platform.

Java software is a network-centric language connected and shared across networks like the Internet. It’s not tied to a specific software platform. Rather, it works on any system that can support Java.

Java is a means by which human programmers can communicate with machine code. Java is powerful because it works as both a compiled language and an interpreted language.

Java is well-loved because it is reliable, secure, and quick to understand and use. This makes Java source code ideal for game-developing software, cloud computing, big data analytics, and even artificial intelligence.

Users looking to run the Java programming language can rely on the Java Platform, a collection of Java programs that allow programmers to work with Java code and make it work on their computers.

By understanding the Java platform, programmers can run Java programs across all web browsers. They can do front-end (Java API) and back-end (Java Virtual Machine) programming.

The History of Java

The more than 30-year history of Java began when a team of Sun Microsystems engineers, led by James Gosling, the father of Java, initiated the Java programming language in 1991.

Java 1.0 was revealed to the public in 1996, offering no-cost run times on popular computing platforms. After stringent rewriting of the Java code, Java 2.0 was released for widespread use.

The Java program continued the next year when Sun Microsystems formalized Java. While the Java software development was proprietary, Java implementations were free for the first few years.

Sun generated revenue by selling licensed products like the Java Enterprise System. This allowed them to release the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) as free, open-source software.

This process was completed in 2007 when the JVM’s core code was completed, and the Java Virtual Machine was ready for full, open-source distribution.

These developments allowed the Java language to spread across mobile devices, web applications, operating systems, and enterprise software.

The Oracle Corporation currently owns the Java program. Today, it is one of the most accessible and widely-used programming languages on the planet.

Java Version History

To answer the question, “ What is Java? ” we need to look at what Java was.

Like other programming languages, Java has undergone several tweaks, iterations, and versions to get to its current form.

This software development has allowed this language to become the backbone of machine code and web services across the Internet. Let’s revisit some of its past incarnations:

Java VersionsRelease Date
JDK Alpha & Beta1995
JDK 1.0Jan 23, 1996
JDK 1.1 Feb 19, 1997
J2SE 1.2Dec 8, 1998
J2SE 1.3May 8, 2000
J2SE 1.4Feb 6, 2002
J2SE 5.0Sep 30, 2004
Java SE 6Dec 11, 2006
Java SE 7July 28, 2011
Java SE 8Mar 18, 2014
Java SE 9Sep 21, 2017
Java SE 10Mar 20, 2018
Java SE 11Sep 25, 2018
Java SE 12Mar 19, 2019
Java SE 13Sep 17, 2019
Java SE 14Mar 17, 2020
Java SE 15Sep 15, 2020 (latest Java Version)
Main Features of Java

Java has plenty of features that make it stand out compared to other similar languages. Let’s look at some of them below:

  • Java is an object-oriented programming language, which makes it one of the easiest languages to learn. It works best for creating object-oriented applications.

  • You only need to write the code once, which works across multiple platforms. Code written on one machine will work effortlessly on another.

  • It is network-centric and flows across the Internet.

  • The Java compiler allows for premier error detection, saving you time, effort, and energy. It can save a project in danger of failing due to bugs.

  • Java is secure and hard to exploit because it works independently of the operating system it’s used on.

  • Java compiler has the power to compile source code to Java bytecode. Java Virtual Machine then turns this into machine code your computer can understand.

Java is extremely useful and offers accessibility like no other language. It makes it possible to do whatever you need to do digitally.

What Is Java Programming Language Used For?

Java can be used for a whole host of applications. However, its main uses are in the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and video game development.

OS systems like Android are built on Java. This makes it indispensable for programmers working on Android devices and those looking to make and sell Android apps and services.

Java is famous for being WORA (Write Once, Read Anywhere), which allows it to be used on cloud-based applications across the Internet. It lets you view your data on any laptop, tablet, or smart device.

The system also processes mind-boggling amounts of data in real time. This allows it to be used for real-time and satellite-based apps and to create AI programs and robotics.

Java in Mobile App Development

Java is most famous to casual tech fans because of its ability to develop languages for mobile applications. It allows you to write code for a website, a mobile app, a social media platform, and more.

In fact, Java application servers are used by megacorporations like Meta, Google, and Spotify to code their mobile apps and ensure that they work every time, delivering your searches in nanoseconds.

Java application development is serious business for Java, a major part of what makes it great. Thanks to Java, even casual programmers and beginners in mobile app development can create professional-level apps for mobile devices.

The Components of Java Programming Languages

A Java application is made of a computer language the machine can read and the source code, which the human programmer can read. It’s Java’s job to translate your orders.

These 3 components are designed to help you, the programmer, instruct the computer on what needs to be done and how to do it. They ensure that the program works and that you experience a successful run.

Java API

Java APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are the front-end communications between the programmer and the platform. They define the syntax and semantics of the Java language.

These act as a database for pre-existing code that users can cut and paste into theirs to ensure functionality. It helps automate the process and helps guarantee that your code runs smoothly.

Java Virtual Machine (JVM)

The Java Virtual Machine handles the back-end communication between Java and the hardware. It is an intermediary between your code and the machine you wrote it on.

This code, otherwise known as the Java byte code, is translated into machine code by the JVM. This allows Java bytecode to be run on different systems and has multiple frameworks for users.

Here are some steps that show how the JVM works:

  • The user’s source code is saved as a .java file.

  • Java compiler converts the code into bytecode as a .class file.

  • The code can now be understood by the JVM.

  • The JVM, which is found in the RAM of your OS, then converts the bytecode into machine code, which the computing device then knows how to process and execute.

Java Runtime Environment (JRE)

Java Runtime Environment is designed to run Java programs. It is essential for programmers who need access to as many pieces of Java as possible, such as Java applets.

This is because it contains the JVM, loader class, and class libraries needed to make the Java suite work across devices.

Java Development Kit (JDK)

The Java Development Kit is used to make Java applications and applets. It helps you write and execute Java-based programs and works on all major OS systems.

If you plan on working heavily with Java as a programmer or an app developer, you will need this kit to run the entire Java platform.

The Different Types of Java Platforms

Here are the four main types of Java programming platforms. Let’s look at what makes them stand out and what they work best on.

Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE)

The Java SE is the basic version of this programming language, equipped with the essentials you need to start coding. It sets the definitions of objects and comes with the necessary functionality.

The Java SE is useful for developing graphical user interface (GUI), database access, and networking.

Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE)

The Java EE offers runtime environment and API for scalable network applications. This makes it ideal for use across departments and businesses to increase interoperability.

Java Platform, Micro Edition (Java ME)

Java ME offers an API and virtual machine designed to run on mobile phones, tablets, and smaller devices. It is a specially-designed version of the Java platform.

Java FX

Java FX allows for internet application development using high-level media engines and graphics. It’s designed for modern, higher-end clientele looking to connect network data sources.

The Benefits of Java Programming Language

Every Java programmer knows how beneficial Java can be. The differences between them may be what kind of benefits they see. After all, a versatile language can mean different things to different people.

Java offers plenty of technical benefits to users, from its interoperability to its scalability, to its adaptability. It works across many different systems, devices, and platforms, and works well.

It allows you to migrate to any computer platform you choose to work on. You do not need to make cross-platform code adjustments.

It also works in the business setting, providing the shortest learning curve among languages and increasing smart connectivity. You also have a large pool of Java programmers to recruit from.

This accessibility makes Java an undeniable asset. It’s low-risk, high-reward , offering users who understand it the ability to make and create any program or platform they set their minds to.

Why Should You Use Java Language?

Java remains one of the most enduring programming languages on the planet because of its broad range of app development tools, ease of use, widespread availability, and more.

Java technology can be felt everywhere, from the apps on our mobile phones to our favorite websites and search engines. Even operating systems like Android can be managed using Java.

Individual users and amateur coders can benefit greatly from Java thanks to its built-in functions, support and learning materials, security, and platform independence.

No matter what platform you use or the program you plan on making , Java has the tools to help you make your dreams come true. It handles both back and front ends and is only limited by your understanding of the language.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions regarding how useful Java is for non-coders? Wondering how influential Java can really be? Well, we’ve got some answers for you.

Let’s examine some common questions concerning Java applications and see why this language is so popular:

What Type of Language Is Java?

Java is a high-level general-purpose, class-based, object-oriented language. This means that well-defined boundaries make each object easier to implement and the language easier to code with.

Java Virtual Machine defines its binary format and is compiled to the byte code instruction set.

Java’s syntax is similar to C++ but is easier to work with. It is free to download for personal and professional use.

Where Is Java Used in the Real World?

Java is the 5th Most Popular Programming Language in the world, with almost 4% of the Internet being made up of Java applications. It’s used by almost every major digital giant and megacorporation.

In addition, Java has its uses in almost every field of research and business, with agencies like NASA and Google relying on it. Even day-to-day programs like Google Docs use Java code.

Is Java Easy for Beginners?

Creating Java applications is quite easy, as the system is well-structured and works across platforms. Java libraries offer code examples that ensure you don’t have to start from scratch.

Whatever isn’t automated in the process is easy to master. This is thanks to a passionate community that collaborates and shares answers, meaning that you have access to a wellspring of Java knowledge.

Java’s popularity can be attributed to its easy and safe use. Its longevity means it’s been dissected and studied, which means there are plenty of study materials you can use to learn it.

It’s also got an active community that’s always willing to share findings with new users. Combined with its quality development tools, new users know they’re in good hands and that the platform is setting them up for success.

Which Companies Use Java?

Support developers and software engineers across Silicon Valley swear by Java. This is because it’s understood by almost every operating system and works excellently as machine code.

Some companies that use Java are sales companies like Amazon, digital platforms like Google, Meta Platforms (Facebook), Microsoft, and streaming and service companies like Netflix, Uber, and Airbnb.

These are some of the largest companies in the world using Java for their web services. The language has proven itself indispensable in shaping the modern Internet and advancing technology as a whole.

Which Apps Use Java Code?

Because most end-users have no clue what programming language their favorite apps use, they’re often pleasantly surprised to know their mobile applications were made using Java.

Many of our favorite social media apps like Spotify, Twitter, and even Minecraft, one of the biggest video games ever made, were built using Java source code.

Enterprise applications like CashApp and ThinkFree Office were designed using the Java program. An operating system like Opera Mini can be made on the Java platform.


Java is an object-oriented application development language that allows users to create the code necessary for application development on everything from enterprise applications to natural language processing.

Java development continues to this day, as more and more companies and individuals abide by its processing power and ease of use.

It will continue to stay popular and relevant for decades to come.

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