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Today marks 19 years since 19-year old Matt Mullenweg partnered with Mike Little to release the first version of WordPress based on the b2/cafelog software. The blog where he shared his thoughts on life and tech was starting to get more traffic and he wanted to ensure its future after the b2/cafelog’s main developer disappeared.

Mullenweg had the vision for what WordPress should be, even before it had a name. It centered on extensibility, a hallmark feature that has made the platform as popular as it is today:

What should it do? Well, it would be nice to have the flexibility of MovableType, the parsing of TextPattern, the hackability of b2, and the ease of setup of Blogger.Matt Mullenweg – The Blogging Software Dilemma, January 24, 2003

Although Textpattern, the interesting new publishing tool at the time, had everything Mullenweg might want in a blogging tool, he wasn’t sure about its licensing at the time. He decided to fork b2/cafelog, which lives on today in a different form as WordPress, thanks to its GPL licensing. Mike Little joined the effort and the rest is history.

The highlight of this year’s anniversary celebrations is the wp19.day website created by David Bisset and his daughter Olivia Bisset, who also managed the project. WordPress users and contributors from all over the world left their heartfelt greetings to celebrate the occasion. Reading through, it’s easy to get a sense of the tremendous good WordPress has done for the world, giving so many a voice, a livelihood, and a chance to live their dreams.

The wp19.day website also featured video submissions from WordPress enthusiasts. Although many first came for the software, the common thread among those who have stayed is the value of the community that has grown up around the project and the leadership it has cultivated. WordCamp and meetup organizer Joe Simpson said WordPress empowered him to take a leadership role in his local community.

“Our community here is nurturing – it’s a family,” Simpson said. “I’m excited to see where we go from here. Happy birthday, WordPress.”

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Matt Mullenweg also joined in the fun of celebrating the milestone by contributing his own greeting to the wp19.day project. In his video submission, he said it’s very rare for a 19-year-old software project and its community to not just still be surviving but actually thriving and “doing better than ever.” He thanked contributors of all kinds who have helped people find their way with WordPress.

Matt Mullenweg on WordPress’ 19th Birthday – video source: wp19.day

“That is a testament to every single person who has ever told a friend about WordPress, participated on the forums, had a translation, contributed code,” Mullenweg said. “Anything that’s been part of the WordPress ecosystem is part of why WordPress is transforming the web and making it into a place that is more open, more inclusive, more democratic, and a place that we want our future generations to grow up in.”
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