20 Years of PHP

A birthday cake with candles spelling "Happy Birthday"

Twenty years ago today, Rasmus Lerdorf released Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools) version 1.0 to the world.

I first encountered PHP in early 2000 when I was working for Brian Rudolph at EUREKA! Interactive. It was my first, big job in the industry, and it provided a solid foundation for the rest of my career.

As I recall, I was making changes to a website, and I used an FTP program—probably CuteFTP—to connect to the server to access the files. I remember seeing files in the directory with the extension .php3. That didn’t strike me as odd, though. I had certainly seen these file extensions in URLs before, but my server-side programming experience up until this point had included only Perl and Classic ASP. I was able to open up the files, navigate around the PHP tags to make the necessary changes, and save the files back to the server—making updates directly to production, as one does.

It wasn’t until 2002 that I began using PHP extensively—I wrote at length about that ten years ago for PHP’s tenth birthday celebration—but this was my first encounter with it, and the thing that struck me was its ease-of-use. Now, fifteen years later, I look back on a career that has been made possible because of PHP.

How did you first encounter PHP? For PHP’s twentieth birthday, I’d like to encourage you to post your own PHP story on your blog. Then, post it to Twitter using the hashtag #20yearsofphp. Also, be sure to follow along as @phpc posts PHP community milestones throughout the day.