Dinosaurs roamed the earth. Fred Flintstone wrote Applets with JBuilder. A shaft of lightning split the dark sky and with a flash <> appeared on his amber screen. Fred scratched his head. "What on flat earth was List
It was the advent of generics.
Programmers do not like change. Or rather, we do not like change that will break something that was working perfectly well before. Java 1.4 introduced the assert keyword. It broke a bunch of our classes. Java 1.5 added enum to the relatively short list of reserved words, a popular name for Enumeration instances. And that was the last time a new keyword was added to the Java Programming Language. Sun Microsystems' engineers knew their audience. They also knew that for their generics to be accepted, old code should preferably still compile without any changes necessary.