The history of PHP began in 1993, when Rasmus Lerdorf created a collection of scripts to track his website's visitor counter. This simple set of scripts, formerly known as "Personal Home Page Tools," created the basis for the programming language we know today as PHP.

I started off long ago with PHP 3. Since that time the language has developed itself into a serious and professional programming language.

—Stefan Koopmanschap

In the years following the creation of these scripts, Lerdorf realized the need for a more structured language for building dynamic Web sites. He decided to extend and rebuild PHP, adding new features and functionality to the language. From this came PHP/FI (PHP/Form Interpreter), which was launched in 1995. In 1997 PHP/FI 2 followed.

The success of PHP/FI was unprecedented and soon the programming language received a lot of attention from developers around the world. In 1998, PHP 3 was launched after Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans had rewritten the parser. This marked a major milestone in PHP's popularity and maturity. Among other things, this version introduced the Zend engine, an interpreter that could convert PHP code to machine code to improve the performance of the language. The meaning of PHP changed as well. It became PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.

After the success of PHP 3, work began on the next major release: PHP 4. This version, released in 2000, brought even more improvements, including object-oriented programming (OOP) and improved database integration. PHP was increasingly used for building complex web applications and gained a strong foothold in the market.

PHP is used by millions of developers worldwide and has a huge community constantly working to improve and extend the language.

In 2004, PHP 5 was released, with the main innovation being the introduction of the Zend Engine 2. This new engine provided even better performance and support for advanced object-oriented programming. PHP 5 paved the way for the further growth and adoption of PHP as a programming language.

PHP 6 is an interesting story. A lot of hours were invested in the development of PHP 6, but eventually it was decided not to publish it. Parts of the new functionality was integrated into PHP 7. Skipping PHP 6 was decided, amongst other reasons, because books had already been published on PHP 6, which could cause confusion when users would buy a book and the actual PHP version they used was different.

The next milestone was PHP 7, which was released in 2015. It was a major milestone and brought significant performance improvements as well as new features such as scalar type declaration and anonymous classes.

Every release since then has been bringing performance improvements. The JIT compiler in PHP 8 caused a significant improvement. The current version PHP 8.3 also adds interesting new functionality such as types class constants.

Today, PHP is one of the most popular programming languages for Web development. It is used by millions of developers worldwide and has a huge community constantly working to improve and extend the language.

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