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Celebrating 20 years of PHP


Dear Reader,

Here is my PHP story.

In 1997, I built my first web based application. When completed it was running on 2 Microsoft Windows servers and powered by ASP (Classic) and SQL Server 6.5. It was around this time that Microsoft decided that if you wanted to use SQL Server on the web, you have to purchase a special web license that was very expensive. This actually was a concession for them because originally they stated that you have to have a license for each person who used your website.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t think that one through, thus the back-peddling and the new Microsoft tax on the web.

I had already purchased 2 licenses for Windows Server and one license for SQL Server and the little company I was building this for could not afford the $15,000 for the new licenses and upgrades. No new hardware and no new functionality, just Microsoft sticking a spigot into our bank account and opening it.

So in 1999, I started looking around for alternatives. I had heard of this new language called PHP and that it was open source. I wasn’t really sure what that meant at the time but figured that it couldn’t cost any MORE than Microsoft, so I started investigating. It turns out that it was gonna cost me a LOT less. No, things weren’t free, but with a little creativity and with the help of a lot of open source software, I was able to rebuild the entire application using PHP.

Not counting what they paid me as a programmer, the new system cost $4,500, that was the price of a shiny new server. All of the software I used was open source.

  • RedHat Linux (Remember RPM hell?) :)
  • Apache
  • PHP
  • MySQL (back when it WAS MySQL)
  • Shoutcast (I has streaming audio way back then)
  •  and a few dozen other packages I can’t recall now

PHP was the catalyst. Since I built that system, I’ve toyed with other languages. I’ve even become proficient enough with JavaScript to get web pages working. However, I’ve never seen the appeal of JavaScript on the server. PHP does the tasks I need done without an issue. (FTR, I felt the same way about Server Side JS the first time I saw it back in ’97ish? What? You thought this was a NEW idea? :) )

PHP is a solid language, it has a great manual, and an awesome community. Those three things raise the bar for switching pretty high.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to PHP

  • Thank you to all of the core contributors
  • Thank you to all the people who work on the manual
  • Thank you to everyone who runs a PHP User Group
  •  Thank you to everyone who contributes to the PHP community

I owe so many people so much that I can’t even begin to start naming names. In the spirit of the PHP community, I am now, and will continue to, pay it forward each and every day.

Until next time,
I <3 |<