PHP, or Hypertext Pre-processor, is a server-side scripting language designed for web development but also used as a general-purpose programming language. PHP was created in 1995 by Rasmus Lerdorf, and its development has been spearheaded by The PHP Development Team and Zend Technologies.
Here is a brief history of the PHP versions up to my knowledge cutoff in September 2021:
PHP/FI (Personal Home Page / Forms Interpreter) 1.0 (1994): This was the first version of PHP, which was named “Personal Home Page / Forms Interpreter” (PHP/FI). It was developed by Rasmus Lerdorf to manage his personal website.
PHP/FI 2.0 (1995-1997): The second version was released in 1995. It included some basic functionality of a web development language, like variables and conditional logic.
PHP 3.0 (1998): The name “PHP: Hypertext Pre-processor” was introduced, and the language’s abilities expanded significantly. PHP 3.0 included support for object-oriented programming, a more consistent syntax, and a number of new features. The PHP 3.0 parser was completely rewritten by Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski.
PHP 4.0 (2000): This version introduced the Zend Engine, which dramatically improved performance and allowed for more advanced features. More web-oriented functionality was added, and PHP 4.0 became very popular as a result.
PHP 5.0 (2004): PHP 5.0 brought about improved support for object-oriented programming and introduced the PDO (PHP Data Objects) extension, which provides a consistent interface for accessing databases. It also included improved error handling and XML support.
PHP 5.3 (2009): This release introduced namespaces, late static binding, jump labels, and closures (anonymous functions).
PHP 5.4 (2012): This release introduced traits, a mechanism for code reuse in single inheritance languages, as well as support for arrays using the short array syntax, and the ability to access traits and methods using a shorter syntax.
PHP 5.5 (2013): This version added support for generators and a ‘finally’ keyword for exception handling. It also deprecated the original MySQL extension.
PHP 5.6 (2014): This version added scalar type declarations and return type declarations, allowing for more advanced programming techniques.
PHP 7.0 (2015): A major upgrade to the PHP language, PHP 7.0 included a huge improvement in performance and significantly reduced memory usage. It also introduced return type declarations, null coalescing operators, and the spaceship operator.
PHP 7.1 (2016): This release introduced nullable types, void return type, class constant visibility, and iterable and multi-catch exception handling.
PHP 7.2 (2017): The 7.2 version introduced object type, abstract method overriding, sodium extension for modern cryptography, and deprecated each() function and assert() function.
PHP 7.3 (2018): In this version, flexible heredoc and nowdoc syntaxes, trailing commas in function calls, and improved garbage collector performance were introduced.
PHP 7.4 (2019): This version introduced typed properties, preloading, null coalescing assignment operator, and weak references.
PHP 8.0 (2020): PHP 8.0 came with several new features like named arguments, union types, attributes, match expression, null safe operator, JIT(Just in Time) compiler, and more.
PHP 8.1 (2021): PHP 8.1 came with several new features like enums, fibers, never return types, intersection types, and read-only properties.
PHP 8.2 (2022): PHP 8.2 introduced read-only classes, DNF types, null, false, and true types, sensitive parameter redaction support, and a new random extension.
PHP 8.3 (Later 2023?): Request for Comments Stage
Each version of PHP is maintained for a specific period of time, with older versions gradually being phased out as newer ones are released. Maintenance includes bug fixes and security patches, ensuring that even older web applications continue to function safely and correctly.
For the most current information about PHP and its versions, please refer to the official PHP website.