The story of WordPress is curious and exciting, it is one of those rare series of events that show how beautiful life online can be and what amazing possibilities it creates.
Today, different programming languages, platforms, and libraries are multiplying faster than ever, which is why it’s especially impressive that more than 1/3 of the sites on the Internet today are based… on the same technology. And it’s jazz-related.
WordPress came along at the right time to become the venture that allowed anyone to make their well-designed website easily and without digging deep. The story is particularly interesting, Matt Mullenweg created the platform willy-nilly, insisting on its independence and general accessibility while at the same time… managing to amass a serious fortune. And to remain one of the most positive characters in the times of ubiquitous internet.
WordPress came along just in time at the moment when the web suddenly became accessible and websites were ready to offer a variety of content. The open source platform has rallied a huge community around it. Thanks to it, today it’s easier than ever to have a well-designed website without being a programmer, designer, or having any experience.
It’s very hard to realize what 1/3 of today’s internet means. Different sources give differing figures, but it is approximately 450 million web pages! With not only the number, but the ratio not stopping growing in recent years, WordPress is adding 2% to its “share” of the web per year, and some say it has even passed the 40% mark!
Today, the project’s main database houses 423,759 lines of code, and because the programmers work on a volunteer basis, 112 years of hours of work have been put into the project so far.
And it all started completely by accident, from the curiosity of a kid.
It’s 2003, and 19-year-old Matt Mullenweg is a freshman at the University of Houston. He decided to start a blog and chose the b2/cafelog platform. He wants to show his classmates the pictures he took on a trip to Washington. The blog was called Photomatt.net, and later became simply Ma.tt.
At that time only 2000 sites were made using b2/cafelog. The platform is far from perfect, Matt needs minor improvements so he can upload his photos. So he’s trying to get in touch with the people who created the project… And today, all of us who use WordPress are very lucky that he’s hitting rock bottom.
The creator of the platform is gone, and Matt decides to seek advice in one of the popular programming forums. “My blog’s software dilemma,” the youngster christens the topic, and explains, “The platform login software I use hasn’t been updated in months, and the main developer has disappeared. I can’t find him anywhere, but I hope he’s at least okay.”
Days pass, only one comment appears below. One Mike Little writes: “If you’re serious about the idea of making a successor to b2, I’d be interested in getting involved.”
And then, things just happen. Slowly but surely, their project began to gain a following to become what WordPress is today – the platform that gives everyone the chance to be featured in the online world.
Symbolic or not, the project was officially created on April Fool’s Day, the date becoming WordPress’ birthday.
People don’t stop preferring WordPress until today because in its basic form, you don’t need to know how to code. The system is simple, intuitive, and time-tested. And if you do a little programming, you can develop your project without limits. Of course, there are no perfect solutions, WordPress is not always the best choice. But it’s definitely a myth that it’s only suitable for more modest projects, and today it’s used by BBC America, Bloomberg Professional, TechCrunch and The New Yorker.
But we mentioned jazz… What does it have to do with a platform for websites? It’s a stylish decision by the developers, which WP fans are well aware of, to name each new version of the platform after a favourite jazz artist. The first official version, from January 2004, is named after Miles Davis, and the latest, from November 2022, is named after pianist Mikhail Alperin – Misha. With the release of each new version, the creators of WordPress also release a short playlist of their favorite performances of the selected jazzman.
“Technology is most useful when it brings people together,” says Matt Mullenweg.
But how did he and his followers walk the long road to success? How did he manage to become a successful entrepreneur despite becoming popular with open source? What are the WordPress creator’s views on the future of the web and the big questions of today? Read on the Digital Stories website.