What is PHP?

Today, we will describe what the PHP is. You probably have heard a lot about it, and even wrote some basic scripts. But if you'd like to learn history or language concepts, then reading this article is the right choice to do.

The first version of this language was released many years ago, back on the 8th of June 1995. During the time, many core components were changed, but the general direction and philosophy stay almost the same. It's a scripting language which is used mostly in web sites or online applications, it's simple, easy to use, can be learned quickly.

We’ll briefly describe each version, so you can see how it was evolving over the time.

PHP 1 and 2

The initial version of this very well known and commonly used programming language was created by Rasmus Lerdorf. In the beginning, it was a simple collection of scripts to track access to his public resume. But after some time, the product evolved, many new features were added. In 1994, the source code was given to the public and anyone could review, test or improve the language core functionality.

PHP 3 and 4

The language parser has been completely rewritten by the team and included in version 3 of the PHP. Also, name of the product was changed from "Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools)" to "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor". As you can see, new name is a reverse acronym, which is an acronym that refers to itself.


After some period of development and iterations, version 5 of the PHP was released in July 2004. This release includes many new features and major improvements, for example, Zend Engine II, PDO extension, extended Object-Oriented Programming support, better performance, etc.


The goal of this version was to support Unicode characters in the core. However, due to various issues and delays in the development, this version was never released to the public. Instead, the PHP language team took some features out of the internal PHP 6 version and added them to version 5.3, which included namespaces. Also, later, traits and re-binding options were added into PHP 5.4 core.


This was a very major step forward, many components of the core have been changed, custom PHP scripts started to work much faster.

The most important new features are:

  • Return type declarations. Now you can set type of variable that can be returned from a function.
  • You can now create custom arrays in define() operator.
  • new class statement which can define anonymous classes.
  • intdiv() function to perform an integer division.
  • The null coalescing operator. This statement returns first operand if it's not null and exists, otherwise the second operand is returned.
  • The spaceship operator. It can be used for comparing various expressions.
  • And many others, which you can find in the official PHP documentation.


This version contains Just in Time compilation (JIT) feature, which is added with a goal to improve performance and reduce execution time.

In conclusion, PHP is a well-known language that is adopted very widely. It allows developers to make code of any complexity. Such popular content management systems, like WordPressDrupalMagento, and many other tools are all written in PHP.

Thank you for spending your time reading this article, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave your message below in the form.

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