History and origin of PHP

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Some time in 1994 when Rasmus Lerdorf put together a bunch of Perl scripts to track down who was looking at his resume. Little by little, people started to get interested in the scripts, and they were later released as a package "Personal Home Page" tools (the first meaning of PHP). In view of the interest, he wrote a scripting engine and incorporated another tool to parse input from HTML forms: FI, Form Interpreter, thus creating what was called variously PHP/FI or PHP2. This was done around mid 1995. 

Soon, people started to use these tools to do more complicated things, and the development changed from just one person, to a group of core developers in charge of the project and its organization. This was the beginning of PHP3. This group of developers (Rasmus Lerdorf, Andi Gutmans, Zeev Suraski, Stig Bakken, Shane Caraveo, and Jim Winstead), improved and extended the scripting engine and added a simple API that will allow other programmers the liberty to add more functionality to the language by writing modules for it. The language's syntax was also refined, with constructs that will be familiar for people coming from object oriented or procedural languages. If you know C, C++ or Java, or have done even some shell/awk scripting, or written a Pascal or VBasic program, learning the basic PHP constructs will be a breeze.

The PHP language features the usual complement of control structures, operators, variable types, function declarations and class/object declarations that we have been accustomed to expect from any compiled or interpreted language, and yet it also has features of its own. For example, in C you employ pointers, in other scripting languages this can be cumbersome or even not possible, but in PHP this is just one use of variable variables, as the code below shows:

$peru = array("domain"=>"pe", "capital"=>"Lima");
$japan = array("domain"=>"jp", "capital"=>"Tokyo");
function show ( $country ) {
echo "Internet domain = ".${$country}["domain"]."\n";
echo "Capital city = ".${$country}["capital"]."\n";
show ("peru");
// Prints:
// Internet domain = pe
// Capital city = Lima
show ("japan");
// Prints:
// Internet domain = jp
// Capital city = Tokyo

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