Happy Sweet 16, WordPress

Over the weekend, the WordPress community celebrated 16 years since Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little forked the B2/cafelog blogging platform to create the first official release of WordPress on May 27, 2003. It launched with a new admin interface, manual excerpts, intelligent line breaks, a link manager, and was compliant with XHTML 1.1 standards.

image credit: Web Design Museum

The first two months of posts on the WordPress development blog read like selections from a time capsule, capturing the early history of the software. Mullenweg shared his journey in a “thinking out loud” style throughout the process of selecting the best route for templating and other decisions that laid the groundwork for the first release. Since those early days, WordPress has outpaced all its early competitors to become the most popular CMS by a wide margin.

Sixteen years later, the software is available in more than 200 languages and is now used by 33.9% of the top ten million websites. WordPress’ uncommon growth can be attributed to its unique combination of leadership, stability, and a community of thousands of contributors and entrepreneurs that are empowered by its open source licensing.

Many WordPress product businesses, part of a commercial ecosystem that Mullenweg estimates at $10 billion/year, hosted sales, giveaways, and promotions in honor of the anniversary. Friends of WordPress all over the world celebrated the software’s birthday with cakes and tributes.

“We are proud to be a part of the WordPress community! Through thick and thin, WordPress has brought great innovation and inspiration to the online world,” WordPress Dhaka meetup organizer Lincoln Islam said.

The WordPress community in Ahmedabad gathered together to celebrate with dinner, a custom Wapuu cake, and games. Ahmedabad, which is located in western India, is the largest city in the state of Gujarat. WordPress 4.6 was the first release to ship with a full Gujarati translation in August 2016, making the software more accessible to approximately 65.5 million Gujarati speakers worldwide. A year later, Ahmedabad hosted its first WordCamp and another followed in 2018.

The team at Bluehost published a video with a few short greetings they recorded for WordPress’ 16th birthday. When asked why they love WordPress, several said they are grateful for the opportunities and the friendships the community has brought them. Check out the #WP16 and #WordPress16thAnniversary hashtags for more WordPress cake pictures and celebrations.

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6 Comments


  1. 16 years ago, WP users share their thoughts on blogs. Today they sell products on WooCommerce. Happy birthday 🙂

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  2. Yeah, the codebase looks like it is 16 years old. Could probably remove thousands of lines of code just going full PHP 7. So many inconsistencies and hacky functions too. This idea of absolute backwards compatibility just feels like it is massively holding things back.

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      1. Does that mean they will make WordPress lean by removing this code?

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      2. I suspect so, Mato. They did remove a lot of backwards-compatibility code when WordPress 5.2 switched to requiring PHP 5.6.20.

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    1. Exactly my thoughts. But seeing the feedback Gutenberg/Block Editor has gotten from early on, I don’t think we’ll ever see breaking changes again in WordPress Core.

      And so it will lose share once other, more modern and with “best practice” approaches in mind CMSes get their market shares.

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