WordPress was released on May 27, 2003 by its founders Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg.
Successor of b2/cafelog
The b2/cafelog, a blogging tool was launched in 2001 by a French programmer Michel Valdrighi.
The programming language used to develop b2 was PHP along with MySQL. It was specifically designed to write blogs.
The major innovation in b2 was generating a page dynamically from the contents of MySQL database instead of static web pages.
It also made use of MySQL for database which provides a search option among the blogs present in the database.
It was licensed under GPL which made its source-code open for all.
It was an unmaintained site. He worked on b2 till December 2002, and suddenly vanished. All the b2 users community was concerned about the developing work of b2.
Michel reappeared in 2003 and later joined WordPress as a contributing developer.
Birth of WordPress
WordPress is the successor and fork (copy of source code) of b2/cafelog founded by Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg. It is also written in PHP language with MySQL.
Matt Mullenweg, son of a software engineer, was a user community member of b2. In 2002, he was a college student when installed b2 for his personnel use.
When Michel Valdrighi stopped updating b2, then Matt decided to fork the b2 software to do his blogging. He wrote a blog announcing to fork b2 source-code, and got a reply from Mike Little stating that he is also interested in forking and would like to work with him.
On 1st April 2003, they created a less than 10 member team to create their own version.
The name WordPress was suggested by a friend of Matt Mullenweg, Christine Selleck Tremoulet.
The name was completely her idea.
After thousands of commits to the official SVN repository, WordPress first version 0.7 was released on May 27, 2003.
Next version 0.1 was released in January 2004 which is also called Davis version. Name Davis was given by Matt as he has affection towards jazz. From now on, all the updates are named on jazz.
Matt also used to include a plugin called Hello Dolly, in every release. This name is a tribute to Louis Armstrong.
After few months of announcing work on b2, some other developers also forked b2. They were, b2evolution by Francois planque from France and b2++ by Donncha O Caoimh from Ireland.
Due to various forks Michel decided to make WordPress the official branch of b2. On 29th May 2003, Matt invited both b2++ and b2evolution to join hands with WordPress. Donncha of b2++ joined readily but other one didn't.
WordPress in current scenario
WordPress is expanding day by day. It is adding some more features in its each version.
Currently it is the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world with millions of users every day. According to a survey, WordPress encounters 22.5% of all websites on the Internet. Today these millions of users who may be developer, writer, blogger or designer make a living out of it.
WordPress yet doesn't provide best use for mobile users. Currently, very few large enterprises use WordPress as their CMS. This number is gradually increasing day by day.
All in all, we can say that future of WordPress is very bright. Matt himself said that he envisioned WordPress as the leading Operating System in coming years.