2003–2004: The New Platform was Born
The market dominance of WordPress is so complete these days that many users may be blissfully unaware of its roots as the fork of a pretty obscure PHP blogging platform.
- B2 Cafelog was originally developed by Michael Valdrighi in 2001, but by 2003 active development had seemingly been abandoned.
- May 2004 saw the release of Version 1.2 (Mingus) and the arrival of plugins, with the famous Hello Dolly demo being put together by Mullenweg himself.
2005–2007: Bold Steps
2005 was a landmark year of the creation of Automattic as a separate commercial entity in August 2005 and the official launch of WordPress.com.
- WordPress 1.5 (Strayhorn) was a particularly noteworthy version, as it brought theming functionality and static pages to the table.
The separation of design and functionality that theming ushered in was a key factor in driving uptake among developers and designers worldwide, and opened the door for future monetization efforts.
- 2005 also saw the launch of anti-comment spam plugin Akismet and initial work on Multisite precursor WordPressMU by Automattic’s first hire Donncha O’Caoimh.
Notable additions in terms of functionality during that period included tagging, widgets, pretty URLs, spell checking, assorted speed improvements and update notifications.
2008 and 2009 saw some major revamps on the WordPress backend, beginning with the Happy Cog-led redesign in WordPress 2.5 (Brecker).
The lead-up to the 3.0 release saw significant additions, such as the built-in theme installer in version 2.8 (Baker) and image editing in version 2.9 (Carmen).
This period also saw the continued growth of the Plugin Directory and the official launch of the Theme Directory – a huge step forward in terms of quality standards and design focus for the platform.
2010–2011: Public Accessibility
The WordPress Foundation was officially set up as a charitable organization by Matt Mullenweg in 2010, with the aim of securing WordPress’ long-term future as an independent open source software project.
- 2010 also saw the arrival of a major version in WordPress 3.0 (Thelonius).
- Version 3.0 also marked the beginning of a re-organization period for the software project behind the scenes, theme directory and other areas of the overall WordPress experience.
- 2011 also witnessed the first official WordPress user and developer survey, which showcased the increasing viability of the platform as a means of generating serious revenue for businesses worldwide.