What began as an abandoned blogging tool in 2001 has turned into one of the world’s most popular blogging platforms and CMS tools.
WordPress grew out as an offshoot from early blogging software b2/cafelog in 2003 after Matt Mullenweg discovered Michel Valdrighi had stopped developing b2, which Mullenweg was using to post pictures of his Washington D.C. trip.
Mullenweg Saves Blogging
Matt Mullenweg, an 18 year old university student at the time, decided to take a portion of the source code from the b2/cafelog project to develop his own blogging platform in January 2003. He wanted a solution that took the best of options such as Movable Type, TextPattern, Blogger and b2 and made them even better. He posted his desire to create this miracle platform on his blog.
Mike Little, now the owner of Zed1, responded to the post and together the two of them developed the modified version into a usable platform. Though it was originally only used by 10 people, it quickly grew, especially when Michel Valdrighi took interest in the project. Between the three of them, WordPress was officially born, with the first version being released in May 2003.
Simple Blogging Tool
The original version is only a bare bones version of what WordPress is today. The goal was to make a platform that made it easy for authors to quickly and easily publish their thoughts and ideas online. At first, it was only a simple blogging tool and not a full-fledged CMS. In fact, to do much more than publish posts, you needed some programming knowledge. Luckily, the two main developers weren’t done.
Search Engine Friendly Updates
In 2004, the small WordPress team which now boasted the talents of developer Dougal Campbell, created Ping-O-Matic to notify popular blog search engines of new posts and updates. Essentially, it was the beginning of the SEO friendly WordPress we know and love today.
This change, mixed with competitors beginning to charge for their service, prompted thousands to switch to the new, but growing platform. Within one more year, the WordPress software had been downloaded more than 900,000 times. This growth was in part to the many new features the team was adding.
Better Functionality And Themes
WordPress and themes go hand in hand now, but themes weren’t added until 2005. These helped users create more aesthetically pleasing blogs. This was also the birth of pages, which were allowed users to create static posts. The overall effect was the beginning of WordPress as a site creation tool versus simple blogging software.
Numerous new capabilities and functions were also added, such as persistent caching for faster sites, the creation of user roles and a completely new UI for the backend. The new UI eventually led to WordPress being used as a powerful CMS. While some may have stopped at this point, the team continued to improve upon the simple fork they began with.
Improved Posting Along With Comments
Most WordPress users can’t remember the platform without spell check, commenting, widgets and plug-ins. Between 2007 and 2009, WordPress quickly developed into a force to be reckoned with. Version 2.1, released in 2007, gave users spell check, tagging and auto-save. Widgets also helped add better functionality and of course, vital speed improvements. By 2009, the software was further optimised with automatic upgrades, simpler plug-in installations, comment threading and a brand new API.
Between 2010 and today, WordPress has continued to undergo numerous changes. While the original intent is still crystal clear, bloggers now have far more tools available to them. Updates such as image editing, custom post types, new APIs, speed improvements, security features and much more have made their debuts.
From 10 To Millions
WordPress may have humble beginnings, but the team has now grown and is continually working to provide a better WordPress. Between the dedicated team and a community full of volunteer developers, professional WordPress developers and WordPress users, there is always plenty of support for all levels of users. Consistent updates and reliable support have helped the platform grown from a handful of users to over 70 million sites.
Mullenweg likely never imagined his dream of a better blogging system would lead to a blogging revolution. He still sets his sights high, though. In 2013, he was heard saying “I see the future of WordPress as a web operating system.” Obviously, there’s much more to come.