WordPress started in 2003 with a single bit of code to enhance the typography of everyday writing and with fewer users than you can count on your fingers and toes. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.
Everything you see here, from the documentation to the code itself, was created by and for the community. WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it. (More than most commercial platforms.) It also means you are free to use it for anything from your cat’s home page to a Fortune 500 web site without paying anyone a license fee and a number of other important freedoms.
On this site you can download and install a software script called WordPress. To do this you need a web host who meets the minimum requirements and a little time. WordPress is completely customizable and can be used for almost anything. There is also a service called WordPress.com which lets you get started with a new and free WordPress-based blog in seconds, but varies in several ways and is less flexible than the WordPress you download and install yourself.
A Little History
WordPress was born out of a desire for an elegant, well-architectured personal publishing system built on PHP and MySQL and licensed under the GPL. It is the official successor of b2/cafelog. WordPress is fresh software, but its roots and development go back to 2001. It is a mature and stable product. We hope by focusing on user experience and web standards we can create a tool different from anything else out there.
2005 was a very exciting year for WordPress, as it saw the release of our 1.5 version (introduced themes) which was downloaded over 900,000 times, the start of hosted service WordPress.com to expand WP’s reach, the founding of Automattic by several core members of the WP team, and finally the release of version 2.0.
After 1.5 we seemed to have something people really liked and we’ve experienced some fairly rapid growth. Here are some metrics for 2006 and 2007.
In 2006 we had 1,545,703 downloads, in 2007 we had 3,816,965!
As for plugins we had 191,567 downloads of 371 unique plugins in 2006. In 2007 there were 2,845,884 downloads (15x growth) of 1,384 plugins.
2006 saw the introduction of the first WordCamp in San Francisco.
In 2007 we adopted a regular release schedule, putting out major feature releases roughly every 3-4 months, or three times a year.
Because of the number of improvements in version 2.5 we took an extra 3 months on it, but 2008 looks on track to do three major releases again. It will be a very exciting year.
There are now dozens of WordCamps around the world, from Vancouver to Dallas to Milan, Italy.