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Sun Microsystems
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Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems is a Silicon Valley-based computer, semiconductor and software manufacturer.

Sun's products include computer servers and workstations based on the SPARC processor, the SunOS and Solaris operating systems, the NFS network file system, the Java platform, and (together with AT&T;) the standardization of Unix System V Release 4. Its less successful ventures include the NeWS window system and the OpenLook graphical user interface.

Table of contents
1 Brief history
2 Computers
3 Operating systems
4 Java platform
5 Office suite
6 See also
7 External links

Brief history


The initial design for Sun's UNIX workstation was conceived when the founders were graduate students at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The company name SUN originally stood for Stanford University Network (which is reflected in the company's stock symbol, SUNW). Founders include Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy, Bill Joy and Andy Bechtolsheim. Of these men, only McNealy and Bechtolsheim remain with Sun.

Other Sun luminaries include early employees John Gilmore, Bill Joy and James Gosling. Bill Joy was invited when he was developing the BSD in UC Berkeley under the aegis of Ken Thompson initially. James Gosling and his fellows developed the Java programming language. In time, Sun became a world-class company and an industry leader, best know for the motto "The Network Is The Computer". Most recently, Jon Bosak led the creation of the XML specification at W3C.

Sun's logo, which features four interleaved copies of the word sun, was designed by professor Vaughan Pratt, also of Stanford University. The initial version of the logo was shown with its sides oriented horizontally and vertically, but it was subsequently altered to feature the logo appearing to stand on one corner.


Sun originally used the Motorola 68000 CPU family for the Sun 1 through Sun 3 computer series. For a short period in the late 1980s, they sold a Intel 80386 based machine, the Sun 386i. Later for the Sun 4 line, Sun developed its own CPU architecture, SPARC, which employs an IEEE standard RISC architecture. Currently Sun offers a 64-bit CPU, the UltraSPARC.

Operating systems

The Sun 1 was shipped with Unisoft V7 UNIX. Later in 1982 Sun provided a customized 4.1BSD UNIX called SunOS as an operating system for its workstations. In 1992, along with AT&T, it integrated BSD UNIX and System V into Solaris, which as a result is based on UNIX SVR4.

Sun is also known for community-based licensing of all of its major technologies including some open source publication. Though a late adopter, it has included Linux as part of its strategy - Sun has been facing tough times as Linux started eating away part of its server market. Recently though, Sun has been developing Linux-based desktop software called Java Desktop System (originally code-named 'Madhatter') for use both on x86 hardware and on Sun's SunRay thin-client systems. It has also announced plans to supply its Java Enterprise System (a middleware stack) on Linux, and to release Solaris under an open source license of some sort.

Java platform

The Java platform, developed in the early 1990s was specifically developed with the objective of allowing programs to function regardless of the device they were used on, sparking the slogan "Write once, run everywhere".

The platform consists of three major parts, the Java programming language, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and the Java Application Programming Interface (API).

The Java programming language is an object oriented programming language. Since its introduction in late 1995, it has become one of the world's most popular programming languages.

In order to allow programs written in the Java language to be run on (virtually) any device, Java programs are compiled to byte code. This can be read by any JVM, regardless of the environment.

The Java API provides an extensive set of library routines. The Standard Edition of the API is targeted at normal workstations, while Enterprise Edition is aimed at large software companies implementing enterprise-class application servers. The Micro Edition is used to build software for devices with limited resources, such as mobile devices.

Office suite

Sun bought StarOffice by acquiring the German software company StarDivision and released it as the office suite OpenOffice.org under both GNU LGPL and the SISSL (Sun Industry Standards Source License). OpenOffice.org, often compared with Microsoft Office (a Microsoft spokesman has stated it is comparable to Office 97), is available on many platforms and widely used in the open source community.

The current StarOffice product is a closed source product based on OpenOffice.org. The principal differences between StarOffice and OpenOffice.org are that Sun supports it and it comes nicely packaged with extensive documentation, a wider range of fonts and templates and what Sun claim to be an improved dictionary and thesaurus. Whilst new releases of OpenOffice.org are relatively frequent, StarOffice follows a more conservative release schedule supposedly more suited to enterprise deployments.

See also

External links

Official Sun Information

General Unofficial Sun Information Sun 3 Unofficial Information Sun 2 Workstation Sun Stories