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DeveloperSun Microsystems
Written inJava
OS familyJava
Working stateDiscontinued
Source modelClosed source
Initial releaseMay 29, 1996; 28 years ago (1996-05-29)
Latest releaseFinal / August 23, 1999; 24 years ago (1999-08-23)
Available inEnglish
PlatformsARM, PowerPC, SPARC, IA-32 (x86)
Kernel typeMicrokernel

JavaOS is a discontinued[1] operating system based on a Java virtual machine. It was originally developed by Sun Microsystems.[2] Unlike Windows, macOS, Unix, or Unix-like systems which are primarily written in the C programming language, JavaOS is primarily written in Java. It is now considered a legacy system.[3]



The Java programming language was introduced by Sun in May 1995. Jim Mitchell and Peter Madany at JavaSoft designed a new operating system, codenamed Kona, written completely in Java. In March 1996, Tom Saulpaugh joined the now seven-person Kona team to design an input/output (I/O) architecture, having come from Apple as Macintosh system software engineer since June 1985 and co-architect of Copland.[4]: XI–XIII 

JavaOS was first evangelized in a Byte article.[5] In 1996, JavaSoft's official product announcement described the compact OS designed to run "in anything from net computers to pagers".[2] In early 1997, JavaSoft transferred JavaOS to SunSoft. In late 1997, Bob Rodriguez led the team to collaborate with IBM who then marketed the platform, accelerated development, and made significant key architectural contributions to the next release of JavaOS, eventually renamed JavaOS for Business.[4]: XI–XIII [6] IBM indicated its focus was more on network computer thin clients, specifically to replace traditional IBM 3270 "green screen" and Unix X terminals, and to implement single application clients.[7]

The Chorus distributed real-time operating system was used for its microkernel technology.[4]: XIII  This began with Chorus Systèmes SA, a French company, licensing JavaOS from Sun and replacing the earlier JavaOS hardware abstraction layer with the Chorus microkernel,[8] thereby creating the Chorus/Jazz product, which was intended to allow Java applications to run in a distributed, real-time embedded system environment.[9] Then in September 1997, it was announced that Sun Microsystems was acquiring Chorus Systèmes SA.[10]

In 1999, Sun and IBM announced the discontinuation of the JavaOS product.[1] As early as 2003, Sun materials referred to JavaOS as a "legacy technology", recommending migration to Java ME, leaving the choice of specific OS and Java environment to the implementer.[citation needed]



JavaOS is based on a hardware architecture native microkernel, running on platforms including ARM, PowerPC, SPARC, StrongARM, and IA-32 (x86). The Java virtual machine runs on the microkernel. All device drivers are written in Java and executed by the virtual machine. A graphics and windowing system implementing the Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT) application programming interface (API) is also written in Java.[4][page needed]

JavaOS was designed to run on embedded systems and has applications in devices such as set-top boxes, computer networking infrastructure, and automated teller machines (ATMs). It comes with the JavaStation.[citation needed]



JavaSoft granted licenses to more than 25 manufacturers, including Oracle, Acer, Xerox, Toshiba, and Nokia. IBM and Sun announced the cooperation for JavaOS for Business at the end of March 1998.[3]

See also



  1. ^ a b Shankland, Stephen (August 23, 1999). "Sun, IBM decaffeinate JavaOS". CNet News. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "JavaSoft Announces JavaOS" (Press release). JavaSoft (Sun Microsystems). May 29, 1996. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "What is the migration path for the PersonalJava, EmbeddedJava and JavaOS technologies?". Connected Device Configuration FAQ. 1995–2003. Archived from the original on June 4, 2003. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Clements, Tom; Mirho, Charles (January 1999). Inside the JavaOS Operating System. Java series. Preface text. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-18393-5. OCLC 924842439. {{cite book}}: External link in |others= (help)
  5. ^ Mirho, Charles; Clements, Tom (July 1997). "JavaOS: Thin Client, Fat Service" (PDF). Byte. 22 (7): 53–54. ISSN 0360-5280. JavaOS uses a small memory footprint, yet its network-centric design lets it access large-scale services
  6. ^ Hayes, Mary (February 23, 1998). "Sun Enlists IBM For JavaOS Aid". InformationWeek. Archived from the original on December 5, 2000. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  7. ^ Finney, Russ (March 10, 1998). "Inside the IBM JavaOS Project". itmWEB. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  8. ^ "Chorus Leaves Unix Behind; Refocuses on Java and CORBA". Computergram International. No. 3112. March 4, 1997. Retrieved June 1, 2021 – via Gale General OneFile.
  9. ^ "Chorus Systems Announces CHORUS/JaZZ". EE Times. February 20, 1997.
  10. ^ "Sun Expands Network Software Business Into Embedded Systems Market". EE Times. September 11, 1997.