Goodbye, James!

Jessica Thornsby

The father of Java leaves Sun/Oracle – but what has he contributed in the last ten years?

James Gosling, often referred to as the father of Java, has left
Sun. He is not the first prominent figure at Sun who has decided
they will not (or cannot) continue at Sun, which is now owned by

His departure signals the end of an era. He is central to many
fond memories of the Java story: when it was just starting out,
when it changed the world, when the Internet was new and exciting.
Gosling, one generation older than the majority of Java developers,
with his grey beard and thinning hair, served as a father figure to
the Java community.

But did he really contribute anything substantial in the last
ten years? At the JavaOne conference his role was that of
sympathetic electrician who, with his worn out jeans and his
fondness for “-ers” in his speeches, demonstrated a refreshing
disregard for formalities.

In his keynote address at the W-JAX 2004 conference, he focused
on himself: his biography, amusing anecdotes, funny pictures from
the time when “it all began.” He had little to say on the issues
currently rocking the Java world. In an interview we conducted in
2004, he dismissed the possibility of Java one day running under an
open source license. He presumed it would be impossible to open
source Java, and maintain its quality assurance and stability. Two
years later, Java was open sourced – and lost none of the quality
and stability, as Gosling had predicted.

To mark the tenth anniversary of Java Magazin, we published a
fun video in which James tries to read the German-language Java
Magazin – he was always available for such stunts. In many of his
public statements however, we mainly saw him as a marketing tool,
announcing new developments and products at Sun.

James Gosling, who not only created Java, but also developed
Emacs, which was for decades considered a ground breaking tool, is
certainly a gifted engineer and a creative mind, but in his last
years at Sun he most likely had few outlets for his talents. It is
unfortunate that he is leaving the company now: it would have been
better for him to leave half a decade earlier.

Goodbye James, the Java community will miss you!

comments powered by Disqus