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Interview: Brendan Eich on JavaScript’s blessing and curse

Eich readily admits to JavaScript’s flaws and talks frankly about what he might have done better, while touching on JavaScript’s improvements over its 23-year lifespan

Being the creator of JavaScript has been a blessing and a curse for Brendan Eich. On the one hand, JavaScript has the distinction of being the most popular programming language in the world. On the other, no language has been the target of more snark.

Eich is well aware of the language’s drawbacks—after all, in 1995, he worked around the clock to create JavaScript in a mere 10 days. In this lively interview with IDG’s Eric Knorr, Eich readily admits to JavaScript’s flaws and talks frankly about what he might have done better, while touching on JavaScript’s improvements over its 23-year lifespan. Warts and all, JavaScript has indeed become “the assembly language of the web.”

The global web community has been enriched by Eich’s work in other ways. In 1998, he cofounded the free software community Mozilla, and in 2015 presided over the introduction of WebAssembly, a standard that enables developers to embed executable code in webpages. WebAssembly supports more than 20 languages, not just JavaScript, opening the ability to write and compile fast web applications to developers of all stripes—and causing many to predict WebAssembly will be central to the future web development.

The initiative that most inspires Eich today is his open source Brave Browser, which blocks ads and trackers and introduces an automated micropayment scheme as a means of paying for web content valuable to the user. Not just another ad-blocking play, Brave offers a provocative solution to the broken business model for web content. Eich discusses this and much more in this wide-ranging interview.