When Java came on the Mac

As you know, with the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, Apple has officially deprecated Java.

As I was reading my stash of Mac magazines from the 1990s, I found the following bit of news about Java on MacFormat Magazine UK, Issue 39, July 1996:

Java adds to Mac component choice

Apple will be integrating the Java Internet system into the Mac OS to strengthen the Mac’s ability to use the Internet efficiently. The unexpected move means that, like those in the rest of the computer industry, its machines will now be capable of running the Java standard, which is catching on quickly.

Java is a complex but powerful programming language specifically designed for creating applets — small programs that you can load from the Net. The programmer only needs to write his project in Java to have it work on any computer that recognises the technology. Apple intends to make the Java Internet system a part of its Mac and Newton operating systems; look out for Java facilities in the Internet suite Cyberdog and the multimedia program HyperCard, for example.

In basic terms, Java works in a similar way to Apple’s component system OpenDoc. Different Java applets can co-operate with each other, so you could use a Java word processor and add in an animation applet to give a visual representation of your main point.

Although Java won’t necessarily offer you any advantages over OpenDoc, it is something the whole of the computer industry seems likely to adopt, so you won’t miss out on some exciting Internet developments. And Apple sees a great deal of potential in OpenDoc parts and Java applets working together, giving you a wider choice of component software than owners of any other computer.

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One thought on “When Java came on the Mac

  1. Oh, if only the sophisticated and elegant concepts of component software and the document-oriented user interfaces, both which were demonstrated to the world by OpenDoc, survived!

    While Java did support component software to a degree, the document-oriented user interface didn’t even get a consideration by Sun Microsystems, let alone others.

    I would love to see a system-level document-centric shell for Mac OS X components to co-operate within, in the way OpenDoc introduced it… but with Apple’s full-screen aspirations of iPad-like user interfaces on the Mac, I don’t see the concept of document-centric component computing re-emerging in people’s eyes any time soon.

    As for Java, it was beautiful in the most fundamental of design aspects, but flawed in its implementation by many. And Sun Microsystems themselves didn’t have the insight, the discretion or direction to develop Java into a reliable multiple-platform platform (think Windows-like apps on a Mac… you get the idea!). I for one am glad that Apple are not bothering with Java anymore, because if anyone is still really interested in running Java on a Mac, then it ought to be done as an environment that runs on top of the Darwin/X11 foundation of Mac OS X, rather than integrated into the system frameworks in some hodge-podge fashion.

    Although… David Watanabe (http://www.acquisitionx.com/) may disagree with me on this one! 😉

    –tonza

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