A brief history of Node.js

A look back on the history of Node.js from 2009 to today

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Believe it or not, Node.js is just 9 years old.

In comparison, JavaScript is 23 years old and the web as we know it (after the introduction of Mosaic) is 25 years old.

9 years is such a little amount of time for a technology, but Node.js seems to have been around forever.

I’ve had the pleasure to work with Node since the early days when it was just 2 years old, and despite the little information available, you could already feel it was a huge thing.

In this post, I want to draw the big picture of Node in its history, to put things in perspective.

A little bit of history

JavaScript is a programming language that was created at Netscape as a scripting tool to manipulate web pages inside their browser, Netscape Navigator.

Part of the business model of Netscape was to sell Web Servers, which included an environment called Netscape LiveWire, which could create dynamic pages using server-side JavaScript. So the idea of server-side JavaScript was not introduced by Node.js, but it’s old just like JavaScript - but at the time it was not successful.

One key factor that led to the rise of Node.js was timing. JavaScript since a few years was starting being considered a serious language, thanks for the “Web 2.0” applications that showed the world what a modern experience on the web could be like (think Google Maps or GMail).

The JavaScript engines performance bar raised considerably thanks to the browser competition battle, which is still going strong. Development teams behind each major browser work hard every day to give us better performance, which is a huge win for JavaScript as a platform. V8, the engine that Node.js uses under the hood, is one of those and in particular it’s the Chrome JS engine.

But of course, Node.js is not popular just because of pure luck or timing. It introduced much innovative thinking on how to program in JavaScript on the server.


  • Node.js is born
  • The first form of npm is created



  • npm hits 1.0
  • Big companies start adopting Node: LinkedIn, Uber Hapi is born


  • Adoption continues very rapidly


  • First big blogging platform using Node: Ghost
  • Koa is born


  • The Big Fork: io.js is a major fork of Node.js, with the goal of introducing ES6 support and moving faster


  • The Node.js Foundation is born
  • IO.js is merged back into Node.js
  • npm introduces private modules
  • Node 4 (no 1, 2, 3 versions were previously released)



  • npm focuses more on security
  • Node 8 - 9
  • HTTP/2
  • V8 introduces Node in its testing suite, officially making Node a target for the JS engine, in addition to Chrome
  • 3 billion npm downloads every week


  • Node 10 - 11
  • ES modules .mjs experimental support


  • Node 12 - 13
  • Work on Deno started to move server-side JS into the next decade with modern JavaScript support


  • Node 14 - 15
  • GitHub (owned by Microsoft) acquired NPM

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