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How has PHP changed over the years? It’s come quite a long way, hasn’t it? With the release of PHP 8.1 yesterday, we take an in-depth look at the history of PHP and how it’s changed over the years with its new iterations. Here’s everything you need to know about the history of PHP and how it changed over time.

1) How PHP Was Initially Created

Rasmus Lerdorf first created PHP in 1994 to help him track visitors to his online resume. He wanted a way to update his resume without having to manually upload files or copy information between documents. So he wrote PHP, which made use of common HTML markup, allowing for dynamic elements within webpages without requiring server-side scripts.

The name originally stood for Personal Home Page, but was later changed to PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. Lerdorf continued working on PHP until 1996 when he passed off maintenance responsibilities to Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski. They moved forward with efforts to expand its capabilities—which is exactly what they did.

In 1997, a group named Zend Technologies was founded by Gutmans and Suraski along with Morten Lindhagen and Andrei Zmievski. This team had been working on improving PHP’s core functionality, including adding object-oriented capabilities to make coding easier. In 1998, an organization called The PHP Group purchased all rights to PHP from Lerdorf. In addition to Lindhagen, Gutmans, Suraski, and Zmievski continuing their roles as lead developers for PHP development work, Fabien Potencier joined as project manager that same year.

2) PHP As A Programming Language

Although originally built for servers, PHP has grown to be one of the most popular languages on web servers. And it’s not hard to see why: easy-to-use, powerful, scalable, supported by pretty much every web host in existence—PHP does a lot right. It’s come a long way since its initial inception in 1994. Let’s take a quick peek at some interesting facts about PHP’s evolution as an open source project through six different iterations so far.

The goal was to provide web developers with a tool that they could use to create dynamic pages for websites. The language enabled developers to tap into their servers’ database capabilities without having to do complex programming. This meant they didn’t have to worry about generating HTML code from scratch—they just had to write scripts that pulled data from databases.

Soon after its initial release, PHP began being used by several government sites including ones for Ontario Hydro, 7-Eleven Canada, South Africa, and Switzerland. By 1997 there were already well over one million installations of PHP—there are now more than 80 million!

3) Then PHP 4 & 5 Arrives

When PHP 4 was released in 2000, most developers didn’t notice. Upgrades for major versions typically don’t garner much attention, but PHP 4 introduced some radical changes to what had previously been a very stable framework. One-dimensional arrays with an arbitrary limit were added, as well as improved Unicode support (partially) and object-oriented capabilities. However, one feature became far more important than anyone could have anticipated: register_globals. Previously all variables were required to be declared before use; this allowed for easier error reporting because typos would show up as an immediate error rather than waiting until runtime. With register_globals enabled all variables become accessible from code on any page without prior declaration.

register_globals caused widespread issues because developers didn’t know about it, meaning there was no validation on any input coming into their code. This meant developers would inadvertently accept unfiltered inputs, leading to exploits like Ethan’s Exploit Kit (EK) that could find exploits in any page containing an unchecked form variable. This made register_globals very unpopular among many PHP developers who considered removing it altogether. The future looked bleak for PHP 4 until its successor finally arrived...PHP 5

In 2004, PHP 5 finally arrived. In addition to its new name, PHP 5 introduced many new features including a built-in web server, XML support, object scalar type hinting and a strict mode for enhanced type safety. These updates helped pave a path for PHP 5 to be considered a full-fledged programming language instead of a toolkit for HTML pages. However, despite all these updates many developers were still wary of registering globals.

4) PHP 7's Release Made Major Improvements

PHP 7 was released in late 2015 with major improvements to performance, stability, and security. Thanks to these changes, many web developers started updating their websites from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7 immediately. It’s worth noting that, as a result of PHP 7’s speed improvements and lower memory consumption, Google now uses much less CPU power when displaying search results than before! That’s especially good news for mobile users who want fast webpages without sacrificing much battery life or data consumption.

Another motivation for the development of PHP 7 is the need to develop scripting languages that run more efficiently and for those who didn’t know, PHP is a vital member of LAMP stack. This concludes that LINUX is their native environment, but it is possible to use PHP on Windows system as well. The 5.x version does not provide the 64-bit integer as of yet.

On the other hand, PHP 7 changes this by launching their consistent support to 64-bit, meaning that it will give both natives the support of large files and 64-bit integers. It gives developers the confidence of running language on their 64-bit Windows system as well.

5) PHP 8 & Beyond

PHP 8 (like PHP 7 before it) brings with it a number of new features designed to make PHP faster, more secure, and better for web applications. But these aren't major changes—instead, they're tweaks that build on previous versions, rather than complete rewrites.

PHP, as a programming language, is constantly evolving. These days you can find PHP being used to power both small websites and large-scale applications—think Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress. That’s a far cry from its origins as a basic scripting language used by hobbyists to build simple webpages! It has evolved into a robust language that suits many different needs.... One big change coming in PHP 8 and its future iterations is support for scalar type hints, which allow functions to accept specific data types.

Today, PHP is available on most platforms and is consistently one of the most popular programming languages in use. It may not be perfect (we’ll get to that later) but we certainly wouldn’t want to be without it!

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