WordPress has come a long way since its inception. The history of WordPress goes back more than 14 years to May 2003. It has grown from the love of web and the true commitment that so many contributors have made to make it what it is today.

What started as an ambitious project to create a better blogging platform, fourteen years later and WordPress is the most popular Content Management System in the world. The latest version of WordPress has been downloaded over 63 Million times.

The popularity of WordPress has grown as has the community. But it wasn’t always this popular. It has taken a lot of work and many years of refining. There has been over 220 releases (including betas and release candidates) of WordPress.

History of WordPress

Here is a brief history of WordPress and how it has grown and evolved over time since its inception all these years ago.
[year year=”2003″]
[entry date=”May 27″ title=”WordPress Officially Available”]On May 27, WordPress was released and history was made. It was born from the evolution of a then popular open source blogging platform called B2.
WordPress Logo - History of WordPress[/entry]
[entry date=”June 9″ title=”WordPress 0.71″]A month after the first official release of WordPress comes this version. Major features from this release include 3x speed improvements and the ability to set the posts status (publish, draft, and private).

WordPress 0.72 Default Theme
The default WordPress theme

[year year=”2004″]
[entry date=”January 25″ title=”1.0 “Miles””]This is the first major milestone release that is named after jazz musician Miles Davis.

WordPress 1.0 Dashboard/Create New Post Page
Starting to take shape. The dashboard of WordPress 1.0

WordPress 1.0 was a major release that brought a number of fundamental features. Page permalinks are now search engine friendly. You can add multiple categories to a post.

Installing and upgrading WordPress is now easier and simpler than ever. Comments can be moderated before they are approved. It also comes with a major admin interface change that makes posting blog posts faster.

WordPress 0.72 Login Screen
The WordPress 0.72 Admin Login box

[entry date=”May 22″ title=”WordPress 1.2 “Mingus””]Mingus is named after Charles Mingus. This is a large release that adds a number of new features including: Sub-categories, new plugin architecture allowing you to hook into nearly everything WordPress does.

Localisation for languages other than English. Preview the post before it is published.

WordPress 1.2 Create Post Dashboard
WordPress 1.2 Create Post Dashboard

[year year=”2005″]
[entry date=”February 17″ title=”WordPress 1.5 Strayhorn”]This release is named after Billy Strayhorn.

WordPress 1.5 Write Post
WordPress 1.5 Write Post Page

It brings huge advancements to themes and customization. Previously there was only one file for the theme. Now it is broken into different sections (header, footer, single etc.).

The theme, Kubrick, built for WordPress 1.2 is now made the default theme and will remain the default until the release of Twenty Ten theme in 2010.

WordPress 1.5 Default Theme Kubrick
WordPress 1.5 Gets a new default theme called Kubrick

This release also introduces the pages post type, the admin dashboard and more control over post comments. There are also a number of speed and security updates.[/entry]
[entry date=”December 31″ title=”WordPress 2 “Duke””]This release is named after Duke Ellington. Another big update that is focused on creating a great editing experience.

The backend has been completely redesigned so you can administer the page/post faster. It adds the TinyMCE What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor. It also includes simpler user roles (Administration, Editor, Contributor etc.) and comes with the Akismet anti-spam plugin.

Additionally, the theme functions.php file is included so modifications can be added easier.

WordPress 2.0 New Post Dashboard
WordPress 2.0 has a new admin layout that is designed for better usability.

[year year=”2007″]
[entry date=”January 22″ title=”WordPress 2.1 “Ella””]This release is named after Ella Fitzgerald. This release comes with a number of nice little features that makes using WordPress that bit better.

There is more speed optimisations, posts get the ability to autosave and you can now switch between WYSIWYG and Text Editor.

WordPress 2.1 Dashboard
The WordPress 2.1 Dashboard is starting to get useful.

[entry date=”May 16″ title=”WordPress 2.2 “Getz””] This release is named after Stan Getz. This is update introduces Widgets which allows you to rearrange and customize areas of your weblog (usually sidebars).

It also includes a number of speed optimizations and stability improvements.

WordPress 2.2 Plugin Admin Page
The Plugin Admin Page on WordPress 2.2

[entry date=”September 25″ title=”WordPress 2.3 “Dexter””]This release is named after Dexter Gordon. This release introduces tags in posts, a WordPress update notification system and canonical URLs for better SEO.

The TinyMCE kitchen sink button is also added which allows for more advanced WYSIWYG functionality.

WordPress 2.3 Create Post Page
WordPress 2.3 Create Post Page

[year year=”2008″]
[entry date=”March 29″ title=”WordPress 2.5 “Brecker””]

WordPress 2.5 Upgrade Database
The update WordPress database screen on 2.5.

This is named after Michael Brecker. This update added dozens of user-requested features. These features include the ability to upload multiple files at once, one-click plugin upgrades and built-in gallery shortcode. There is also a new media library, the ability for concurrent post editing protection and full-screen writing.

The dashboard also underwent an upgrade with a cleaner and faster dashboard.

WordPress 2.5 Media Upload Box
The New Media Upload box in WordPress 2.5
WordPress 2.5 Dashboard
The new dashboard in WordPress 2.5

[entry date=”July 15″ title=”WordPress 2.6 “Tyner””]This release is named after jazz pianist McCoy Tyner. This release introduces a number of new features that make this release of WordPress even more powerful.

It introduces post revisions which allow you to track who made what changes. This update also includes post editor word count, image captions and updates to the core that make it stronger better and faster.

WordPress 2.6 Create Post
The new create a post page in WordPress 2.6

[entry date=”December 11″ title=”WordPress 2.7 “Coltrane””]This release is named after John Coltrane. It is a major update for the admin interface and includes updates to make using WordPress even better.

You can customize parts of WordPress to how you like with the new “Screen Options”. This is the first release to implement automatic updates to WordPress. Previously you had to manually update the code but this release does it all for you.

WordPress 2.7 Drag and Drop Widgets
The widgets in the dashboard are now drag and drop-able in WordPress 2.7
WordPress 2.7 New layout
The entire interface has had a facelift in WordPress 2.7

[year year=”2009″]
[entry date=”June 11″ title=”WordPress 2.8 “Baker””]This release is named after trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker. There are not many visual differences in this release but using WordPress 2.8 is way faster than previous versions.

The widgets edit page has also had an overhaul.

WordPress 2.8 Widgets
The Widgets page has had an overhaul making it easier to manage.

[entry date=”December 19″ title=”WordPress 2.9 “Carmen””]This release is named after jazz vocalist Carmen McRae. This release introduces the “trash” feature so you can restore posts that have been removed.

A built in image editor has been added so you can crop, edit, rotate and flip your images.

You can now paste a single video URL from popular video hosting sites on a new line and WordPress will convert the URL to an embedded video.

There are dozens of other updates that make WordPress 2.9 the smoothest ride yet because of a number of subtle improvements under the hood.

WordPress 2.9 Posts Edit
The new posts edit screen makes it easy to administer posts.
WordPress 2.9 Media Editor
The new WordPress media editor enables image editing right in WordPress

[year year=”2010″]
[entry date=”June 17″ title=”WordPress 3.0 “Thelonious””]
This is the thirteenth major release of WordPress brought to you with six months of hard work by 218 contributors.

WordPress 3.0 has had a facelift with its new lighter interface and default theme, Twenty Ten.

There is a new contextual help button in the upper right hand corner on every screen and over 1,200 bug fixes and feature enhancements have been added.

Finally, you can now bulk update all of your plugins at once with a single click.

WordPress 3.0 New Twenty Ten Theme
Twenty Ten is the new default theme for WordPress 3.0
WordPress 3.0 Choose bg Header
Choose a background header in WordPress 3.0

[year year=”2011″]
[entry date=”February 23″ title=”WordPress 3.1 “Reinhardt””]This is the fourteenth release of WordPress named in honor of the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

This update brings enhancements to the linking system in the post editor to allow you to link pages and posts that are already in your site. It also comes with a streamlined writing interface that creates a simpler and less intimidating writing experience for new users.

And the admin bar is added so you are just a click away from your most often used dashboard pages.

WordPress 3.1 Post Create Page
The new WordPress post create page in 3.1

[entry date=”July 4″ title=”WordPress 3.2 “Gershwin””]This release is named after the noted composer and pianist George Gershwin.
3.2 is the fifteenth major release of WordPress and comes just four months after WordPress 3.1.
The aim of WordPress 3.2 is to make it faster and lighter by refreshing the dashboard design and typography.

WordPress 3.2 has a new default theme too. With the introduction of the Twenty Eleven theme, it fulfils WordPress’s plan to replace the default theme every year.

WordPress 3.2 Twenty Eleven Theme
Twenty Eleven is the new default theme in WordPress 3.2

[entry date=”December 12″ title=”WordPress 3.3 “Sonny””]This release is named in honor of the great jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt.

This release further improves the admin bar and dashboard layout from version 3.2. There are hover menus in the navigation and the admin bar is a lot more streamlined.
There is a handy new drag and drop media uploader and support for co-editing a post has improved.

Finally there is a better experience for first time users with a friendly welcome message and pointer tips for new features included in each update.

WordPress 3.3 Welcome Screen
The new welcome screen in WordPress 3.3

[year year=”2012″]
[entry date=”June 13″ title=”WordPress 3.4 “Green””]This release is named in honor of guitarist Grant Green.

The biggest feature of WordPress 3.4 is the theme customizer which allows you to test drive theme options without actually making the changes live. When you are happy, you can publish the changes.

This also allows you to try out a new theme without actually making the change live. When you are happy, you can set that theme as you active theme.

You can change colors, backgrounds and custom image headers for themes that support it. This update plants the foundations for further improvements to the customizer in future releases.

There is a number of little improvements that make using WordPress better. These improvements include a more streamlined themes page and image captions have also been improved.

WordPress 3.4 Login Screen
The login screen in WordPress 3.4
WordPress 3.4 Welcome Screen
Welcome to WordPress 3.4 screen
WordPress 3.4 Theme Manager
The new theme manager in WordPress 3.4

[entry date=”December 11″ title=”WordPress 3.5 “Elvin””]This release is named in honor of drummer Elvin Jones.

The best change in this release is the completely re-imagined flow for uploading photos and creating galleries. The media editor and gallery page is a lot simpler to use now.

This release includes a new mobile first and responsive default theme called Twenty Twelve.

The dashboard styles have been refreshed so that they are retina-ready with beautiful high resolution graphics. The color picker and a couple of other lesser used admin sections have also had some streamlining work.

WordPress 3.5 Welcome Screen
WordPress 3.5 Welcome screen
WordPress 3.5 Twenty Twelve Theme
Twenty Twelve is the new default theme in WordPress 3.5

[year year=”2013″]
[entry date=”August 1″ title=”WordPress 3.6 “Oscar””]This release is named in honor of the great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

WordPress 3.6 comes with the new blog-centric Twenty Thirteen theme.
There is a new post autosave and post locking feature that makes sure you do not lose you work if you lose access to the page.
If you need to revert a post to a previous version, you can now do that with the nice revisions browser.

Finally there is native support for audio and video embeds as well as better integrations with Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud.

WordPress 3.6 Twenty Thirteen Theme
Twenty Thirteen is the new default theme in WordPress 3.6
WordPress 3.6 Menu Edit Page
The menu edit page has had an overhaul for better usability.

[entry date=”October 24″ title=”WordPress 3.7 “Basie””]This release is named in honor of Count Basie.

This release adds features that make the WordPress framework even more robust. Minor maintenance and security updates are now automatically applied in the background without needing to touch a thing.

Dozens of new checks and safeguards have been implemented to ensure the update process is more reliable and secure than before.

The password meter has been updated to recognize common mistakes that can weaken your password with stronger password recommendations.

Finally, there is better localization for the millions of people who use WordPress in a language other than English. Versions of WordPress will automatically receive faster and more complete translation updates.

WordPress 3.7 Welcome Screen
WordPress 3.7 Welcome Screen

[entry date=”December 12″ title=”WordPress 3.8 “Parker””]This release is named in honor of Charlie Parker.

WordPress. 3.8 is a massive release that brings major changes and a welcome facelift. This version of WordPress has a fresh new look across the entire admin dashboard. It is bolder and more colorful.

Both theme and widget management has seen improvements. Its now simpler to see all of your themes and you do not need to scroll and drag in the widgets page any more if you do not want.

Twenty Fourteen is the new default theme which matches the bold new colors of the admin dashboard.

WordPress 3.8 Welcome Screen
WordPress 3.8 is radically different than 3.7
WordPress 3.8 Twenty Fourteen
Twenty Fourteen is the new default theme for WordPress 3.8
WordPress 3.8 Login Screen
The new flatter looking WordPress login screen
WordPress 3.8 Dashboard
The new WordPress dashboard is quite a change from the previous version.

[year year=”2014″]
[entry date=”April 16″ title=”WordPress 3.9 “Smith””]This release is named in honor of jazz organist Jimmy Smith.

WordPress 3.9 comes with a host of new refinements. The visual editor has had a lot of work done with improved speed, accessibility, and mobile support.

You can edit images easier with quick access to the image rotation and crop tools while editing your posts. Additionally, images can be scaled directly in the editor.

When uploading media into your post, you can now drag and drop them from your computer into the editor and they will be uploaded and added to your post.

Galleries inserted in the visual editor now also display a preview of the images in that gallery and music and video galleries now have the ability to have playlists.

WordPress 3.9 Welcome Screen
A number of nice enhancements to the WordPress editor in version 3.9
WordPress 3.9 Theme Chooser
Visually pick through all the themes in the WordPress theme directory.

[entry date=”September 4″ title=”WordPress 4.0 “Benny””]This release is named in honor of jazz clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman.

This release brings a little bit of polish to the writing and management experience. The editor, theme and plugin experience have all been improved.

The media page now has an endless grid of all your uploads that make viewing and editing your media easier.

YouTube URLs pasted on a single line will automatically convert into an embedded video and the editor now automatically fills the size of the screen as you scroll.

Finally, the plugin browser that houses all of the 50,000+ WordPress plugins has been improved so that you can easily find the plugin you have been searching for.

WordPress 4 Media Library
The media library has had an overhaul and is now much easier to use.

[entry date=”December 18″ title=”WordPress 4.1 “Dinah””]This release is named in honor of jazz singer Dinah Washington.

New features in WordPress 4.1 help you focus on your writing and there is a new theme to show it off.

Twenty Fifteen is the new default theme for WordPress 4.1 and comes with flawless language support and is readable on any screen size.

There is a new distraction free writing mode which hides all screen options until needed. This makes it very easy to write your posts without anything getting in your way.

WordPress 4.1 Welcome Screen
WordPress 4.1 brings with it a new theme
WordPress 4.1 Twenty Fifteen Theme
Twenty Fifteen is the new default theme in WordPress 4.1

[year year=”2015″]
[entry date=”April 23″ title=”WordPress 4.2 “Powell””]This release is named in honor of jazz pianist Bud Powell.

WordPress 4.2 has extended character support. It now includes native Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters, musical and mathematical symbols, and hieroglyphs.

Emoji is now available in WordPress too! 💙 🐸 🐒 🍕

Plugin updates have received some love with streamlined updates happening on the same page.

WordPress 4.2 Welcome Screen
WordPress 4.2 Welcome Screen
WordPress 4.2 Theme Customizer
WordPress 4.2 brings improvements to the theme customizer

[entry date=”August 18″ title=”WordPress 4.3 “Billie””]This release is named in honor of jazz singer Billie Holiday.

New features in 4.3 make it even easier to format your content and customize your site.

You can create and update live-preview your menus in the customizer.

It is now easy to write faster with the new formatting shortcuts. You do not need to break your writing flow and can just use the asterisks key to create lists and hash signs to make headings for example.

Finally, site icons have been added to the customizer so you can ad a visual icon for your site and WordPress now automatically generates secure passwords to encourage your to not use password as your password.

WordPress 4.3 Welcome Screen
WordPress 4.3 brings a number of nice improvements including formatting shortcuts and site icons.

[entry date=”December 8″ title=”WordPress 4.4 “Clifford””]This release is named in honor of jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown.

New features in 4.4 make your site more connected and responsive as well as introducing a new default theme.

Twenty Sixteen is the newest default theme for WordPress. It is a modern take on a classic blog design with fluid grid and flexible headers.

WordPress has improved the way images are displayed on your page. They add a number of images sizes to the image to ensure an appropriately sized image is displayed on each screen that’s viewing that image.

Finally, WordPress has added more post embed options. When you embed a WordPress URL into your post, it displays in a nice embedded way.

Twenty Sixteen Theme WordPress 4.4
Twenty Sixteen is the new default WordPress theme in version 4.4

[year year=”2016″]
[entry date=”April 12″ title=”WordPress 4.5 “Coleman””]This release is named in honor of jazz saxophonist Coleman Hawkins

New features in WordPress 4.5 help to streamline your work-flow when writing and building your site.

You can now edit links in your post inline with the new inline link editor.

The customizer has had an upgrade allowing you to preview your website in desktop, tablet and mobile views. You can do this by clicking the corresponding buttons in the customizer. The site identity section in the customizer now has a section to upload your own logo too.

WordPress 4.5 Welcome Screen
Improved inline links and formatting is the main feature of WordPress 4.5

[entry date=”August 16″ title=”WordPress 4.6 “Pepper””]This release is named in honor of jazz baritone saxophonist Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III

New features in 4.6 help you to focus on the important things while feeling more at home. This update makes use of the default fonts on your computer so that the dashboard loads faster.

It includes streamlined updates that makes sure you stay on the same page without the need to reload when updating your plugins.

WordPress saves your content as you type. In 4.6. it makes it even easier to recover the saved content in your browser if you lose it.

WordPress 4.6 Improved Plugins
Improved plugin handling in WordPress 4.6

[entry date=”December 6″ title=”WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan””]This release is named in honor of legendary jazz vocalist Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan.

New features in 4.7 help you get your site set up the way you want it and comes with a brand new default theme.

Twenty Seventeen is the new default theme in WordPress 4.7 that focuses on users with business sites.

WordPress 4.7 improves the customizer to help take you through the initial setup of your theme and a number of tweaks to make it easier to administer. You can live preview your changes without anyone seeing and then save them to make it live when you’re done.

Finally, PDF’s uploaded to the media library now have a preview of the content of the PDF.

WordPress 4.7 Twenty Seventeen
Twenty Seventeen is the new default theme for 4.7

[year year=”2017″]
[entry date=”June 8″ title=”WordPress 4.8 “Evans””]This release is named in honor of jazz pianist and composer William John “Bill” Evans.

This release brings more ways for you to express yourself and represent your brand.

There are 3 new media widgets that enable you to embed your media in your widget areas. An image, video and audio widget.

Link editing has been improved. Now your links don’t get combined with text around your links when editing in WordPress 4.8.

Are you interested in attending a local WordPress meetup? The WordPress news widget has been upgraded to include local events in your area too.

New Media Widgets
The new Media Widgets in WordPress 4.8

[entry date=”November 14″ title=”WordPress 4.9″]Some of the best features of WordPress 4.9 include improvements to the widgets and theme installing page.

There is a new galleries widget allowing you to add image galleries in your widget areas as well as the ability for shortcodes.

The theme browsing and installing process has been rethought to prioritize user flow, extensibility, and include performance improvements.[/entry]
[latest_deal length=”full”]

Where to next?

Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to the long term outlook for a piece of software. The history of WordPress is pretty clear but what is certain to say is that WordPress has a bright future.

All of these updates and contributions from the community make it such a powerful CMS that is loved and used by 10s of millions of people every day.

What do you think is next for WordPress? Add your comment to let us know what you think is coming in future WordPress updates.

In there short term the will be improvements to the visual editor and customizer experience among further usability and speed improvements. Who knows what WordPress will look like in 3, 5 or even 10 years from now.

The future of WordPress is up to you. Once you have added your thoughts on the future of WordPress in the comments below, head over to WordPress.org and become a contributor. The WordPress project is always in need of new people to push the internet forward.

By the way, version 4.9 will be out very shortly, so be on the lookout!