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Java is best known as a programming language, which emerged in 1995 along with the Internet for general public. At this time, its better known characteristic was its capability to build applets (little applications) that can embbed in web pages, thus providing new interactional and computational capabilities that could be easily deployed on any host. To achieve this goal, Java was designed to be platform-neutral (running in a virtual machine, which is actually a software installed on your host), dynamic (it loads what it needs on a on-demand basis), and suited to networks (and so to the Internet), carrying lightweight code.

Since this time, Java has growed as a lot stronger, bigger and reliable platform that is widely used in most enterprise-level applications. It is shipped with a lot of built-in APIs, and much more optional APIs aimed to more specific goals, such as multimedia, 2D or 3D drawing. As a virtual platform, Java APIs are actually most of the time leveraging existing software (so there is almost no limitation in capabilities nor performance) through a standardized Java layer that ensures application portability.

There are Java virtual machines for Windows (de Sun, IBM ou Microsoft), Apple, Unix (Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, etc.), or PDAs (Palm Pilot, etc.). Most of the web browsers (IE, Mozilla, Firefox, etc.) include a Java VM.

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