history of wordpress

The History Of WordPress: Why on Earth is it so popular?

If you’ve been reading this blog then you know that I absolutely love WordPress and, as a result, have decided to thoroughly research the history of WordPress. I’ve been using it for over 15 years and have stood by it over the years. WordPress has powered almost every single website built by me. 

I don’t think many people know about or understand just how rich the history behind WordPress is. I figured I would take you guys on an amazing journey to learn all you’ve ever wanted to know about WordPress.

Why Is WordPress So Popular?

Everybody has heard of WordPress. Having your own website or a blog is not a prerequisite to being familiar with WordPress. It’s a free, open-source CMS platform that has taken the internet by storm.

WordPress can attribute their success to a few different factors. The first of which is their perfect timing. WordPress hit the market right when blogs were trendy and around the time where budding entrepreneurs realized that they could make a lot of money online with blogs. 

Secondly, and more importantly, it’s a damn good piece of software that’s extremely powerful, versatile, customizable, scalable, and fairly easy to use. It’s easy for people who barely even know their way around a computer. 

Finally, WordPress is ridiculously easy to optimize for search engines (SEO). The holy grail of any website or blog is to get good, organic Google traffic from landing a top spot within their search results. WordPress alone makes this easy with their built-in features, but plugins help take things to the next level.

These days many WordPress installs are not set up specifically just for blogs. WordPress powers some of the biggest websites in the world. Let’s take a look at both the history of WordPress and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about WordPress!

How Did WordPress Get Started?

Back in the early 2000’s, an open-source blogging project called b2/cafelog was where many people turned to when they wanted to set up their own blog. At the time, users were using outlets like LiveJournal and MySpace for blogging. b2/cafelog is where users turned to when they would outgrow these social media platforms.

The b2/cafelog project would end up discontinued and abandoned. In 2003, two of the members of the old b2/cafelog group decided to pick up the abandoned project. Matt Mulleneg and Mike Little decided to build a new platform based on the core of the old b2/cafelog system.

May 27th, 2003: WordPress makes its debut. It had templates, a new admin interface (that would later evolve into wp-admin) and, although it seems archaic to bloggers today, the post editor was pretty advanced for its time.

A year later in May of 2004, WordPress version 1.2 would come out and would take the world by storm with its revolutionary plugins feature. Because Matt and Mike left WordPress open source, users were able to write and contribute plugins on their own. There wasn’t money at all in this back in the day, so users were just doing this mostly as a hobby.

History of WordPress

Before WordPress, the only real competitor to b2/cafelog was Moveable Type. However, around 2004-2005, Moveable Type announced new terms for licensing which would do nothing short of piss off their current user base. These new terms with Moveable Type resulted in a huge influx of users to WordPress.

February 2005 – WordPress adds the ability to create Pages and an entirely different Theme system.

December 2005 – WordPress 2.0 is released with a complete revamping of the administration sections. This version also used JavaScript and DHTML. Using these languages meant that users could add tags and categories to posts without leaving the page. (Yes, it used to take us away from the Posts screen if we tried to add a new category while writing a post)

March 2006 – Automattic officially filed for the WordPress trademark registration. Automattic was the company created by co-founder Matt Mullenweg.

2010 – This was a busy year for WordPress. The first notable achievement came in June, when Matt transferred ownership of the WordPress trademark from his company Automattic to the WordPress foundation. This meant that WordPress could continue to grow without being dependent on a company or any specific group of developers.

Recent History of WordPress (2010-2020)

Over the next decade WordPress would slowly transform into what it is today. Many more milestones would be hit along the way. 2013 saw the new responsive admin interface so that WordPress users could properly control their blogs from a mobile device. 2016 would see WordPress actively supporting SSL and HTTPS. 2018 saw the release of WordPress 5.0 that featured the new Block Editor codenamed Gutenberg.

These days a WordPress install can be done in 5 minutes or less. A fresh core install has access to over 6,000+ completely free GPL-licensed themes. You’ll also be able to take your pick from over 54,000+ plugins.

Companies like HostGator would go on to offer “One-Click WordPress Installs” that made it super easy for users to get hosting for $2.75/mo, get a free domain name, and install WordPress in 60 seconds or less. 

This and other similar deals from competing web hosts helped WordPress explode in popularity. Even registrars like NameCheap started offering 60-second WordPress installs

Open-Source Software is vulnerable because hackers are able to analyze every line of code. View my Basic WordPress Security Tips article from back when I was a professional hacker to see what steps to take to secure your WordPress install. 

Crazy WordPress Statistics For 2020

It is estimated that WordPress is used by 37.4% of all websites that we know of. Think about that. Out of every single website on the internet, at least 1/3rd of them are using WordPress. That’s a lot, seriously. Even the big guys. If you take the top 100 websites in the world, 14.7% of them are running WordPress. (Check out the next section below where we outline some of the most popular sites running WordPress)

Out of all websites using WordPress, 17.2% of them are running WooCommerce. This means that many of the top eCommerce outlets out there may likely just be running a simple-ish WordPress install with WooCommerce.

WooCommerce powers over 30% of online stores on the entire internet!

Since 2003, WordPress has comprised over 423,000 lines of code. It has taken enough man hours to write all of this code that, when looked at in a linear sense, takes up over 112 years. All of this at an estimated cost of over $6+ Million to fund.

Popular Sites That Use WordPress

Some of this may not seem believable, but it’s absolutely true. Some of the sites below use their own WordPress.org installations, while others maintain hosted WordPress.com blogs.


Why Is WordPress Free? What’s The Catch?

WordPress is freely-licensed, completely free, open-source software. But what exactly does that mean? 

The type of license means that WordPress is completely free to use in any way that you see fit. Make a personal blog? Free. Make a website for your business? Free. Own a web design agency and want to charge $2500 to install WordPress? It’s still free for you to use. You just can’t sell the actual WordPress software itself.

Open-source software is software that has the actual source code included with whatever licensing agreement that you’ve got. Since WordPress is completely free (GNU/GPL) that means that you have access to the actual WordPress source code.

But WHY is WordPress free? Well, there’s a certain philosophy that often accompanies open-source software. It’s (arguably) fairly easy to copy and redistribute software that has been written. Read the GNU free software philosophy for a better understanding.

The two founders of WordPress built this software off of an old piece of blogging software that was always intended to be free. They wanted to keep WordPress free as well. But that’s not to say they aren’t out there making a killing.

WordPress.org is the free version of WordPress that you install on your own hosting. Remember that company called Automattic that Matt Mullenweg founded? They own WordPress.com, the restricted “free” blog hosting platform. 

Many of these large companies using WordPress.com (like TED, CBS, NFL, etc..) are paying well over $5,000 per MONTH. WordPress.com has helped Automattic to raise well over $300 Million in venture capital funding.

How Much Does It Cost To Run A WordPress Website?

It’s actually really inexpensive. Competition is super high in the world of Web Hosting, resulting in super low prices throughout the industry. Many web hosts even give you a free domain name.

  • Namecheap – Hosting as low as $1.75/mo with free domains and heavily discounted premium domains. One of the most popular domain registrars that also provides super cheap hosting with fast and easy WordPress installs.
  • HostGator – Hosting as low as $2.75/mo with free .com domain names. Super easy 60-second WordPress installs. One of the most popular web hosting companies in the world. (use coupon code WCMSAVES at HostGator for a huge discount).

More WordPress and Money-Making Tips: Did you like learning the history of WordPress? Let me introduce myself: My name is Brad and after prison (hacking and finance crimes), turning to online side hustles was my only option for work at the time. I regularly post money-making tips, side hustles, WordPress help, and funny prison stories. Feel free to subscribe below for updates:

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