Published June 12, 2020 | Version Corrected March 2021
Journal article Open

JavaScript: The First 20 Years

  • 1. Wirfs-Brock Associates, Inc
  • 2. Brave Software, Inc.


How a sidekick scripting language for Java, created at Netscape in a ten-day hack, ships first as a de facto Web standard and eventually becomes 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.


This is the authors version with corrections. The paper was presented at the HOPL-IV conference.. The definitive Version of Record was published in Proceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages, June 2020,



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