Apache httpd is fifteen years old

My buddy Rich tweeted a terse message yesterday afternoon: “Happy Birthday Apache Web Server, started 15 years ago today!” I had meant to write up the story then, but forgot it about it. Consider this my “Happy belated birthday” card.

According to the official announcement, the Apache Software Foundation’s “first project became the world’s most popular Web server software within the first six months of its inception. The Apache HTTP Server today powers nearly 112 million Websites world-wide.”

I’ve been using Apache for a long time, and although I’ve dabbled with alternative http daemons from time to time, I keep coming back to Apache’s httpd. It works, and it works well. It’s easy to configure, it’s supremely well documented (thanks in no small part to the efforts of people like my buddy Rich), and it’s extremely well supported.

The Apache Software Foundation has been a model for how to shepherd a successful open source project, and they’ve gone on to shepherd a tremendous number of important technologies, like SpamAssassin, Subversion, and a whole lot more. The ASF’s Incubator strives to provide the resources and expertise necessary to grow the stewardship and responsibility necessary to build a successful community around an open source project.

According to one story I heard, Apache earned its name through a bad pun. The original NCSA web server was forked in early 1994, and a bunch of patches were submitted by a number of early contributors to the “http-new” mailing list. This led folks to refer to their nascent project as “a patchy web server”, from which “Apache” was derived. Ha!

Happy birthday, Apache httpd! Here’s hoping you have many more!