What is WordPress? A Brief History

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WordPressWordPress, summed up, is a content management system. Think of this as a database of your content and a way to present that database to the world. However, WordPress is much more than that, with the ability to expand itself to almost any type of website imaginable, there is no limit to what it can do.

The simplest way to start is to discuss what WordPress isn’t.

Ok, now let’s look at what it can do.

WordPress, in the beginning, was meant to be a blogging platform, allowing users to deploy a website without much knowledge or experience, and do so quickly. Not much has changed over the years, and this is still, at its core, what WordPress does best. WordPress did one thing exceptionally well, and it gave developers a platform to expand on what the core system could do by allowing Plugins.

Plugins opened the door for WordPress to become a platform that could literally become any kind of website one could imagine. It gave developers a way to tie into the ecosystem of WordPress, adding any type of functionality they could think up.

Some examples of the types of WordPress sites that you could start are:
  • A company website with a portfolio.
  • A blog to showcase your past or future writing.
  • A portfolio showcasing your past or future works.
  • An eCommerce store selling soap.
  • A job listing website for open job positions.
  • A photography website with a portfolio.
  • A podcasting website for your new podcast on self-improvement.
  • … And so much more!

The above list is just the tip of the iceberg. WordPress allows for just about anything you could dream up, and the best part is, it can grow and expand with you, your business, or your service.

A Brief History of WordPress

On May 27th, 2003, WordPress officially launched its first version, version 0.7. WordPress was a fork of the application called b2/cafelog with several improvements, including an admin interface and new templates.

WordPress saw tremendous acceptance from the community and began releasing updates often that fixed bugs or added major features.

Hello Dolly!

By January 2004, WordPress 1.0 launched, known as the “Davis” version due to Matt Mullenweg’s love of jazz. We can see this in the plugin, included in every new WordPress install, named Hello Dolly, which is a tribute to Louis Armstrong.

The Hello Dolly plugin, while active, randomly generates a lyric from Louis Armstrong’s song Hello Dolly in the upper right-hand corner of the admin screen on every page load.

WordPress Growth

WordPress has seen fantastic growth since it’s release in 2003 and continues to be the number one most used content management system on the Internet. To give you an idea of how many websites are using WordPress, 35% of websites online today use it, and WordPress boasts over seven million downloads.

Brenda Barron of WhoIsHostingThis.com did an excellent writeup on 2020’s Most Surprising WordPress Statistics that outlines more about WordPress. If you want to learn more about WordPress, check her post out.

Be sure to read the section where Brenda talks about how WordPress is still growing. There’s no end in sight for how large WordPress can grow, and it’s continually adding, expanding, and developing new systems, plugins, and themes for the ecosystem. If you’re new to WordPress, there is a wealth of information, free and available online to educate yourself. There are also many camps, meetups, and events explicitly geared around WordPress.

WordPress Education

There is no shortage of information on WordPress, regardless if you prefer to read, watch, or do— available online or in-person. The best method we have found to learn WordPress is to get in and start doing. Find a web hosting company that has a great starter package for new websites, and deploy a copy of WordPress today. If you mess something up, remove the install and start fresh, or learn more by figuring out what broke and fix it.

If you’re looking for local meetups or groups that deal specifically with WordPress, be sure to check Meetup.com’s WordPress topic. They list all of your local groups, what they meet about and where. Facebook is also an excellent resource for finding WordPress groups. We’re part of a number of groups there, and you’ll always find someone willing to help answer your question.

Get Started

The best advice we can give to anyone new to WordPress is to… just start! 

With any new skill we learn, starting is the first step and, in most cases, is the hardest for most. Deploy a WordPress website and just start; creativity can start flowing once you do.

Further Reading

The resources below are a few that we found useful and very informative, let us know in the comments if you have more.

WordPress – Wikipedia
The History of WordPress – Kinsta
The History of WordPress from 2003 to 2019 – wpbeginner

Was there something we didn’t cover?

Do you need advice?

Let us know below! We love helping new website owners, small businesses, or sole-proprietors with their next big project.

Author: Mike Bowden

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Mike Bowden is the Owner, Project Manager, and all-around knower-of-techy-things at OBS. He's been in the technology industry since he could read and loves anything silicon-based. He's been a WordPress fanboy for well over fifteen years and has seen the good the bad in the industry. He spends most of his time now, helping others build their dream website, hosting, and protecting his clients' websites.
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