IF YOU HAVE A cellphone and want to play games or run programs on the phone, you’ll often see a logo come up saying: “Java”.
Of course, Java has three official meanings: it could be a large island forming part of Indonesia, a slang term for a cup of coffee or, in this case, a program language designed by Sun Microsystems.
The idea behind Java was to create computer programs that could run on any computer without having to be rewritten each time.
The reason why that’s necessary is that every type of computer operating system – such as Windows, Linux, Mac OS or even the systems that run your cellphone – are like foreign coun- tries, each with its own language. So while a company might write a game to speak fluently to a Windows PC, if you try and run it on a cellphone you’re out of luck, because to the phone it’s gibberish.
What Java does is rely on an extra piece of software – called a Java Virtual Machine – to act as a universal translator between the Java program and the machine it’s running on. Though each translator has to be written for the specific system that it’s running on, once that’s been done, the Java Virtual Machine becomes the equivalent of a local guide in a foreign country – one luckily educated in the language of your choice.
The only real limita- tion then becomes the power of the device and the amount of memory available. Programs for cellphones are designed to be run on small, low-power devices with limited storage capacity; while a large corporate program is designed to run on a fast, high-powered machine with access to massive amounts of memory. Therefore, a cellphone would be unlikely to run the corporate program. However, a program designed for a cellphone should, in theory, run fine on the big computer.