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Gosling was with Sun Microsystems between 1984 and 2010 (26 years). He is known as the father of the Java programming language. He got the idea for the Java VM while writing a program to port software from a PERQ by translating Perq Q-Code to VAX assembler and emulating the hardware. He left Sun Microsystems on April 2, 2010 after it was acquired by the Oracle Corporation, citing reductions in pay, status, and decision-making ability, along with change of role and ethical challenges. He has since taken a very critical stance towards Oracle in interviews, noting that "during the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle, where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle." He clarified his position during the Oracle v Google trial over Android: "While I have differences with Oracle, in this case, they are on the right. Google totally slimed Sun. We were all really disturbed, even Jonathan Schwartz; he just decided to put on a happy face and tried to turn lemons into lemonade, which annoyed a lot of folks on Sun." However, he approved of the court's ruling that APIs should not be copyrightable.
He is known for his love of proving "the unknown" and has noted that his favorite irrational number is . He has a framed picture of the first 1,000 digits of in his office.
Gosling initially became known as the author of Gosling Emacs, and also invented the windowing system NeWS, which lost out to X Window because Sun did not give it an open source license. He is generally credited with having invented the Java programming language in 1994. He created the original design of Java and implemented the language's original compiler and virtual machine. Gosling traces the origins of the approach to his early graduate-student days, when he created a p-code virtual machine for the lab's DEC VAX computer, so that his professor could run programs written in UCSD Pascal. In the work leading to Java at Sun, he saw that architecture-neutral execution for widely distributed programs could be achieved by implementing a similar philosophy: always program for the same virtual machine.
Gosling, James (2004-08-31). "A Conversation with James Gosling". ACM Queue. ACM. Retrieved . At Sun he is best known for creating the original design of Java and implementing its original compiler and virtual machine.
^McMillan, W.W. (2011). "The soul of the virtual machine: Java's abIlIty to run on many dIfferent kInds of computers grew out of software devised decades before". IEEE Spectrum. 48 (7): 44-48. doi:10.1109/MSPEC.2011.5910448.