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According to Crockford[0], Netscape called it LiveScript, originally. In their attempt to 'destroy Microsoft', they teamed up with Sun. One of Sun's original goals with Java was making it the client-side scripting language for the browser. However, Netscape had LiveScript. Apparently the negotiations almost broke down over this point.

In an enlightened moment, (probably) Marc Andreessen proposed renaming LiveScript to JavaScript (despite the fact that the languages have very little in common), and joy was had. Sun got the JavaScript trademark (and passed it on to Oracle), and Netscape got a perpetual exclusive license to use it.

When JavaScript was standardized to avoid Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, Netscape refused to share its license, and so the official language was renamed to ECMAScript, after the standards body. When Sun was bought by Oracle, it also got the trademark, and presumably, Mozilla inherited the exclusive license from Netscape.


[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO1Wnu-xKoY#t=430

I was told by Robert Mathis that the name ECMAScript was picked as a draft name because they were unable to focus on standardizing the language due to all the fighting about the name. They figured the name was so awful that they would have to go back and change it before they finished the standard. Then they never got back around to changing it.

I thought the name "ECMAScript" was created out of necessity, presumably because Netscape had the exclusive license granted by Sun and using the name as part of the standard would affect that status?

They might as well have standardized it under the trademarked name, though. It seems that anything can be called JavaScript as long as it adheres to the spec (although strictly speaking Mozilla's JavaScript is versioned independently and the term "JavaScript" usually describes a superset of ECMAScript).

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