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Closing the Hood
Author Bids Farewell to Longtime Column
by Bill Venners
First Published in JavaWorld, November 1997

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This final installment of Under the Hood gives a brief history of the column, tracing its development and maturation, a topical index of the column's back issues, and a hint of what readers can look forward to from this popular JavaWorld author.

After one and a half years, the time has come for me to close the hood. This month's article represents the final installment of Under the Hood. I am saying farewell -- for a while.

How Under the Hood got started
For some reason, I tend to buy Economist magazines in airports. That's about the only time I buy them, and sitting on planes is about the only time I read them. Back in October 1995, as I was flying back to the Bay Area and thumbing through an Economist I had bought at the Denver airport, I came across a one-page article about a cool new programming language for the Internet. That is how I first heard about Java.

It's obvious that in those days I didn't have my finger squarely on the pulse of the Internet: Java had been out almost half a year before I even heard about it. At that time, I was busy working on software contracts, immersed primarily in the world of C++, MFC, and Microsoft Windows 3.1. When I first read about Java in the Economist, I was quite intrigued by it. As I read more about Java by surfing the Web, it became clear to me that Java would be my next step; it was the direction in which I wanted to go. I decided that after I completed the C++ project I was then working on, I would try to find a way to focus on Java.

One day in February 1996, as I was again surfing the Web looking for more information about Java, I came across a page that gave me an idea. A new Webzine named JavaWorld was about to be launched and was in need of authors. Having always harbored a secret desire to write novels, I thought to myself, "Self, this could be your big break." I figured I could get into Java, and get some writing experience to boot, by writing about Java. So I e-mailed Michael O'Connell, JavaWorld's editor-in-chief, and asked if a C++ person who is planning to learn Java could possibly write for his magazine. Michael said that providing we could find a suitable topic for me to write about, he'd be happy to give me a JavaWorld assignment.

My next problem, then, was figuring out what to write about. I kicked several ideas around in my head and bounced a few off of Michael. Eventually, he and I decided that I would write about the Java virtual machine (JVM), and the Under the Hood column was born.

I wanted to write about the Java virtual machine because I was interested in Java internals. Though it's a bit embarrassing to admit, my interest in Java internals wasn't some grand career strategy. It simply arose out of my own excitement about the technology. I thought Java was really cool, and I wanted to understand how it worked.

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