rod mclaughlin

How I (almost) invented AJAX ten years ago

Sat, February 3, 2007

In 1997, I worked for a small software company. Their main product was an accountancy package written in Visual Basic. It was the time when corporations had discovered the silver bullet of the Internet, and my job was to make the product 'Internet-enabled'. Microsoft, God bless 'em, had just invented embedding ActiveX controls in web pages to counter the threat of Java applets (remember applets?). I discovered a way to use ActiveX controls to asynchronously change the appearance of part of a web page while the user was using it.

The picture in this blog entry is the PowerPoint slide in which I presented the VBScript code and its potential use.

Sound familiar? Yes, I almost invented AJAX ten years ago. (AJAX is Asynchronous JavaScript And XML. My example used VBScript, and didn't use XML, but the key is Asynchronous).

However, the company wasn't impressed. I was ahead of my time.

Perhaps my observation that we could avoid using existing code didn't help my argument: people were attached to their legacy Visual Basic.
Portland London