James Gosling

Written by Courtney Aziz


Vice President and Sun Fellow, Sun Microsystems

Claim to Fame

Inventor of the JAVA programming language




Calgary, Alberta

Currently residing in


The story of James Gosling and Java is a classic tale of disruptive discovery in the new economy. It began in the early 1990s while Gosling was a lead engineer for Sun Microsystems, the networked computing pioneer that was about to make its debut on the Fortune 500.

Gosling began working on a secret task force called “The Green Project” to investigate and address future issues for Sun as new technologies like the Internet were coming of age. As the project developed, it became obvious that one of those issues was the programming language, and the absence of a universal software platform. Gosling’s assignment was to solve this problem, and his solution was Java.

Gosling’s personal creation, Java made the construction of networked applications easy and reliable, enabling a new breed of universally accessible, cross-platform Internet applications. Gosling realized his success at a 1995 event to launch a number of new Sun products. Customer attention became focused on Java, entirely shifting the agenda for the event. The positive response and acceptance was overwhelming, making it a proud moment for Gosling — he had made it.

From a young age, Gosling has been very involved with technology. In high school, he often skipped classes to sneak off and work in the university computer lab. By 15 he was analyzing ISIS satellite data for the physics department at the University of Calgary. In 1977, he received his Computer Science degree from the University of Calgary, and in 1983 he received his PhD from Carnegie-Mellon before spending a brief time at IBM research.

Today virtually every Internet-enabled application is based in some way on Java, and Gosling continues to promote and build on his already landmark contribution to the new economy.

This success story brought to you by The Leaf Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to championing Canadian success and involvement in the New Economy. Courtney Aziz is a consultant with public relations firm GCI Group (

© 2002 Courtney Aziz

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