How Java Works

Generic java programming code written on black screen
Java is a popular computer language. funky-data / Getty Images

Have you ever wondered how computer programs work? Have you ever wanted to learn how to write your own computer programs? Whether you are 14 years old and hoping to learn how to write your first game, or you are 70 years old and have been curious about computer programming for 20 years, this article is for you. In this edition of HowStuffWorks, I'm going to teach you how computer programs work by teaching you how to program in the Java programming language.

In order to teach you about computer programming, I am going to make several assumptions from the start:


  • I am going to assume that you know nothing about computer programming now. If you already know something then the first part of this article will seem elementary to you. Please feel free to skip forward until you get to something you don't know.
  • I am going to assume you do know something about the computer you are using. That is, I am going to assume you already know how to edit a file, copy and delete files, rename files, find information on your system, etc.
  • For simplicity, I am going to assume that you are using a machine running Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT or XP. It should be relatively straightforward for people running other operating systems to map the concepts over to those.
  • I am going to assume that you have a desire to learn.

All of the tools you need to start programming in Java are widely available on the Web for free. There is also a huge amount of educational material for Java available on the Web, so once you finish this article you can easily go learn more to advance your skills. You can learn Java programming here without spending any money on compilers, development environments, reading materials, etc. Once you learn Java it is easy to learn other languages, so this is a good place to start.

Having said these things, we are ready to go. Let's get started!