Java is a programming language originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems (which is now a subsidiary of Oracle Corporation) and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems' Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities. Java applications are typically compiled to byte code (class file) that can run on any Java Virtual Machine (JVM) regardless of computer architecture. Java is a general-purpose, concurrent, class-based, object-oriented language that is specifically designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. It is intended to let application developers "write once, run anywhere". Java is currently one of the most popular programming languages in use, and is widely used from application software to web applications.
One characteristic of Java is portability, which means that computer programs written in the Java language must run similarly on any supported hardware/operating-system platform. This is achieved by compiling the Java language code to an intermediate representation called Java byte code, instead of directly to platform-specific machine code. Java byte code instructions are analogous to machine code, but are intended to be interpreted by a virtual machine (VM) written specifically for the host hardware. End-users commonly use a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed on their own machine for standalone Java applications, or in a Web browser for Java applets.
A major benefit of using byte code is porting. However, the overhead of interpretation means that interpreted programs almost always run more slowly than programs compiled to native executables would. Just-in-Time compilers were introduced from an early stage that compiles byte codes to machine code during runtime.
Java uses an automatic garbage collector to manage memory in the object lifecycle. The programmer determines when objects are created, and the Java runtime is responsible for recovering the memory once objects are no longer in use. Once no references to an object remain, the unreachable memory becomes eligible to be freed automatically by the garbage collector. Something similar to a memory leak may still occur if a programmer's code holds a reference to an object that is no longer needed, typically when objects that are no longer needed are stored in containers that are still in use. If methods for a nonexistent object are called, a "null pointer exception" is thrown
Java ME has become popular in mobile devices, where it competes with Symbian, BREW, and the .NET Compact Framework.
The diversity of mobile phone manufacturers has led to a need for new unified standards so programs can run on phones from different suppliers - MIDP. The first standard was MIDP 1, which assumed a small screen size, no access to audio, and a 32kB program limit. The more recent MIDP 2 allows access to audio and up to 64kB for the program size. With handset designs improving more rapidly than the standards, some manufacturers relax some limitations in the standards, for example, maximum program size.
Google's Android Operating System uses the Java language, but not its class libraries, therefore the Android platform cannot be called Java. Android executes the code on the Dalvik VM instead of the Java VM.