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PHP development began in 1995 when Rasmus Lerdorf wrote several Common Gateway Interface (CGI) programs in C which he used to maintain his personal homepage. He extended them to work with web forms and to communicate with databases, and called this implementation "Personal Home Page/Forms Interpreter" or PHP/FI.
PHP/FI could help to build simple, dynamic web applications. To accelerate bug reporting and to improve the code, Lerdorf initially announced the release of PHP/FI as "Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools) version 1.0" on the Usenet discussion group comp.infosystems.www.authoring.cgi on June 8, 1995. This release already had the basic functionality that PHP has as of 2013. This included Perl-like variables, form handling, and the ability to embed HTML. The syntax resembled that of Perl but was simpler, more limited and less consistent.
Lerdorf did not intend the early PHP to become a new programming language, but it grew organically, with Lerdorf noting in retrospect: "I don’t know how to stop it, there was never any intent to write a programming language […] I have absolutely no idea how to write a programming language, I just kept adding the next logical step on the way." A development team began to form and, after months of work and beta testing, officially released PHP/FI 2 in November 1997.
The fact that PHP lacked an original overall design but instead developed organically has led to inconsistent naming of functions and inconsistent ordering of their parameters. In some cases, the function names were chosen to match the lower-level libraries which PHP was "wrapping", while in some very early versions of PHP the length of the function names was used internally as a hash function, so names were chosen to improve the distribution of hash values.