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The Green Team

Sun recruited Gosling and five others to create a secret project, code named the Green Team, whose mission was to build technology that could unify electronic devices. The collective vision of the Green Team was to create a single operating environment that could be used by any device, no matter which platform it used. The core features they wanted included interactivity between devices, a decrease in their development time and a cost reduction of implementing new features through the use of a single operating environment. This would eliminate the need to program for different platforms and allow Sun to expand into the lucrative video game and domestic device markets.

The project was so isolated that the team moved away from Sun, severed all regular communication, and vowed to only emerge when the project was complete. After 18 months of high-level work, in which the team worked around the clock, they finally came out of hiding. With millions of dollars spent, and hundreds of man-hours consumed, Gosling’s team presented Sun with a small device that fit in the palm of their CEO’s hand.


On a small touch-screen interface the future mascot of Java waved and cart-wheeled for its audience. "Duke" was a software entity that could do all the tasks on behalf of the user and represented technology that was ready to perform jobs in a wide range of entertainment platforms and appliances.

The brilliance behind the new technology was not the wide range of functionality the hand-held tool could undertake, but the new programming language specifically created for the device. As the lead engineer and key architect of the new language, James Gosling understood that the key features of Oak needed to incorporate three broad ideas

• Platform independence. Gosling’s solution to the multiple platform problem was to incorporate a virtual machine into the architecture of the new language. The virtual machine would translate the programmer’s code into the language of whatever machine it was being run on.

• Extreme reliability. Programs are only as good as the programmers developing the code. Gosling understood that in popular programming languages of the time, some features unnecessarily added to their complexity. His solution was to remove or hide these elements.

• Security. The new language was conceptually designed for network use, where information and code could be shared. Systems on such a network would be vulnerable to malicious code. Each element of the language was thus designed with security in mind.


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