Just the Gist
There has been 8 versions of PHP. The latest major release was just a year ago. The language has matured over the years and we have seen it getting more features, more performant and more stable.
We have had PHP in some form or the other available to the public since 1995. That is 26 years! A lot has happened with the language since it started out. In fact, Rasmus Lerdorf, the original creator of PHP, stated once: "I have absolutely no idea how to write a programming language, I just kept adding the next logical step on the way." While this was how it started, and it can explain some of the quirks of the language, the evolution has continued in an organic but albeit a more controlled way later on.
The embryo of the language - simple scripts.
Database layer was added.
The open source nature takes form. Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans becomes core developers.
The Zend Engine is introduced. Superglobals see the light of day (V4.1).
The object model is updated. Zend Engine is improved. PDO is a new and improved way to interact with the database layer. There's also namespaces, JSON-support, anonymous functions, and more. (In a way, PHP is now a modern language.)
A version of PHP that was supposed to include native Unicode support. It was abandoned when there were difficults addind this support, and new features that were supposed to be added were instead introduced in minor version updates to version 5.
Improvements to the Zend Engine. Null coalesce operator is now a thing. Return type declarations is supported and so is scalar type declarations. We have liftoff for the "spaceship" operator <=> , and much more. It's exciting!
More performance improvements with another updated Zend Engine. Attributes are now supported (a native feature that functions as annotations). Named arguments make it easier to call functions. Match expression makes for a more precise and concise version of the switch statement. And again; so much more!
As we can see, there has been many improvements to the language since its inception. Performance, consistency, and stability are all improved. Who knows what will happen next?
When did you start using PHP? What are some features that you miss? Are there some features that were an odd addition to the language? Comment below and let us know what you think ✍
- Retrospect by Rasmus Lerdorf, via Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20130728125152/http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail58.html
- What happened with version 6: https://wiki.php.net/rfc/php6