Who created PHP: A quick history lesson

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Who Created PHP?

Introduction – Who created PHP

PHP is a popular and few of the earliest programming languages for web development. It is a general purpose scripting language geared towards web development. Web and PHP are closely related. PHP adds interactivity, and the web would have been a static load of information without any interactive features. That means no Social Media, Search Engines, or Online Stores. Imagine how boring the internet would have been without all these cool apps.

PHP added interactivity to the web and made it more than just an overload of information and also an inevitable part of our lives. Surprisingly, PHP was not intended to be a programming language in the first place, let alone a popular web development language. So, how did it become one? What was PHP intended for, and who developed PHP?

This article glances through the history of PHP, its beginnings, and its evolution. So, brace yourself for a wonderful journey through time to discover all about PHP.

The Beginnings – Who Created PHP?

In 1994, a Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf wrote several programs for maintaining his personal homepage. He extended the functionalities, adding interactions with web forms and databases. The early non-released version, which he called “Personal Home Page/Forms Interpreter” (PHP/FI), helped Rasmus keep track of the visits to his home page, mainly to see how many people viewed his online resume. 

In June 1995, Lerdorf released the first version at a discussion group to improve the code and expose potential bugs in the program. Nevertheless, this early version had all the basic functionalities of today’s PHP, including HTML embedding, form handling, and Perl like syntax. The earlier version had a simpler syntax, but it was limited and inconsistent.

After the first release, a development team began working on it, and after thorough testing, they released PHP/FI 2 in 1997. PHP organically grew into a programming language, which was much less anticipated by Lurdorf when he first wrote this program. The organic growth of PHP posed yet another problem of inconsistent function names. 

The later PHP versions replicated the low-level library functions’ names. However, the earlier versions chose function names that would enhance the distribution of hash values. This inconsistency was addressed in the subsequent PHP version.

PHP 3 and 4

Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans rewrote the parser in 1997 and formed the foundation for PHP 3. Besides, they also changed the name to “PHP : Hypertext Preprocessor.” After the public testing of PHP 3, it was officially released in June 1998. Suraski and Gutman rewrote the PHP core and produced Zend Engine in 1999. Zend Engine is a runtime environment and a compiler for PHP.

PHP 4 was released in May 2000. By August 2008, the development reached version 4.4.9. Afterward, no further updates were released for PHP 4.


In July 2004, PHP 5 was released with many new features including support for object oriented programming (OOP), PHP Data Objects Extension (PDO), and also many performance tweaks. In 2008, PHP 5 became the only stable version under development. Soon after this many reputable open source projects transitioned from PHP 4 to PHP 5, manly because of GoPHP5 Initiative that was promoted by developers to encourage the transition from PHP 4 to PHP 5.


PHP had received mixed reviews for its lack of support for native Unicode at the core language level. Attempts were made to bring Unicode support to PHP but the lack of developers who could understand the required changes and performance setbacks resulted in prolonged delays. Finally, PHP 5.3 was released with many non-Unicode features from PHP 6. In 2010, the PHP 6 project was abandoned. 


During 2014 and 2015, a new version of PHP was released, PHP 7. Although, the naming had been an issue initially because some developers thought it should be PHP 6 since it had never been released but the name, PHP 7 was decided through voting. PHP 7 was aimed at boosting up the performance of PHP.

By July 2014, WordPress-based benchmarks became a standard performance metric for PHP 7, and it indicated a 100% increase in performance. Besides, PHP 7 included a wide range of new features including support for scalar types in arguments and return type declaration.


PHP 8 was released in late 2020 and it includes some new features including Just-in-time compilation, arrow syntax, new operators, and some additional functions. 


A sample “Hello World” code in PHP.

echo "Hello World";

Here’s the “Hello World” PHP code embedded in HTML.

        <title>Hello World in PHP</title>
            echo "<h1>Hello World</h1>";

Here’s how to declare and initialize PHP variables.

$name = "Mary"; //String type
$age  = 22; //Int Type
$height = 5.5; //Float type
$verified = true; //Boolean type
$hobbies = ['Programming','Photography','Reading']; //Array type
echo "Hello I am ".$name.' and my hobbies are: '.PHP_EOL; //Concatenating strings and variables.
print_r($hobbies); //Printing an array with print_r function.
Hello I am Mary and my hobbies are:
    [0] => Programming
    [1] => Photography
    [2] => Reading

Conclusion – Who Created PHP?

This article takes you back to 1994 when Rasmus Lerdorf developed a program in C for his personal home page and later released it in a developers forum. Afterward, this simple program grew into a programming language and evolved through time to become one of the most cherished web development languages. Websites including Facebook, Dailymotion, and Tumblr use PHP.

At the time of writing this article, the latest version is PHP 8, released in late 2020. We hope that you have enjoyed the journey through time and learned the history of PHP and most importantly got the answer to the big question: Who Created PHP? Stay tuned for more informative content related to PHP at FuelingPHP.

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