>Few technical people wanted anything to do with it if they could help it at all – the big use case it was being touted for (browser applets) never really got off the ground, and for most everything else, many folks thought of Java as a kind of C++ with non-removable training wheels and abysmal performance.
A lot of technical people were thrilled with Java, because it FINALLY allowed to write large programs without spending hours compiling stuff or waiting for Perl interpreter to muddle through the code.
Java has never become successful on the client side, but on server-side it was an instant hit. A great explosion of OpenSource Java projects in 90-s attests to that.
> So? Other popular languages did, too.
Which ones (with cross-platform GUI frameworks)?
I know only of Tcl/Tk which requires, shall we say, quite a bit of getting used to.