Originally created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, PHP is a general-purpose programming language that’s commonly used in the deployment of server-side scripts. It’s powered by the open-source platform Zend Engine, and can either be embedded directly into HTML or used in content management systems (CMS) or web frameworks. While most webmasters and programmers have a basic understanding of PHP and how it works, we’re going to explore some of the fun, lesser-known facts surrounding it.
PHP has a Mascot
Who says mascots are limited to sports teams? Several popular programming languages, including PHP and Java, also have mascots. Java’s mascot is a black, white and red cartoon character named Duke, while PHP’s mascot is a big blue elephant that’s aptly named elePHPant.
PHP Wasn’t Meant to be Programming Language
Surprisingly, Lerdorf has never intended for PHP to become a programming language. He had created the language, or interface at the time, for the purpose of managing his personal website.
“I don’t know how to stop it, there was never any intent to write a programming language,” revealed Lerdorf when discussing the early days of PHP. “I have absolutely no idea how to write a programming language, I just kept adding the next logical step on the way.”
PHP Originally Stood for ‘Personal Home Page’
While PHP is recognized today as a recursive backronym for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor,” it was originally an acronym for “personal home page,” referring to its use on Lerdorf’s personal website. As the language evolved, so did its meaning.
There are More than 5 Million PHP Developers
It’s unclear exactly how many PHP developers there are in the world, although Zend recently estimated the number to be around 5 million.
PHP 7 was Dubbed ‘PHP Next Generation’
Authored by Dmitry Stogov, Xinchen Hui and Nikita Popov with the purpose of improving PHP performance through refactoring, PHP 7 was originally dubbed “PHP Next Generation (phpng)”
Although Free, PHP is Not Distributed Under the General Public License
PHP has certainly restrictions that prevent it from being distributed under the General Public License (GPL). For instance, products created or derived from PHP may not contain PHP in their respective names without permission from the PHP Group. As a result, PHP is not compatible with GPL.
PHP is Used on 244+ Million Websites
According to Netcraft’s Web Server Survey, approximately 244 million websites run PHP as of January 2013. Of course, this number is likely even higher today given the widespread use of PHP in web design and development.
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