20 Years of PHP, and how I got on this train

Written by Rafael Dohms - - Aggregated on Monday June 8, 2015
Tags: 20yearsofphp

PHP, the most loved and hated language on the internet turns 20 today, 20 years ago Rasmus released Personal HomePages to the public, what happened next will blow you away.

Ben Ramsey called on us to blog about our history, so I decided to take a few minutes and do just that.

Back in the 90’s in the midst of the Counter Strike and IRC wave of the Internet I started getting interested in HTML and CSS on top of my current adventures in IRC scripting (yes, I distributed one called Doomsday Script with some l337 chars.). I even stumbled onto Cold Fusion as my first run into something that could “make the web remember stuff”. By this time I was heading out of school and into College, somewhere along the end of the 90’s.

It was early 2000 when I had enrolled into Computer Enginneering and got word from a friend that the company she worked at, a small publicity agency, was looking for some developers to do HTML and Flash, which by then I was good enough at, having developed multiple websites for things like my Counter Strike Clan and my IRC channels I was OP of (I know… but hey, it was the cool thing back then).

I ended up getting the job and one day the owner of the company, Gaston, showed me how i could use this PHP thing to query a database and show current birthdays of the month on an HTML page. I was blown away in the 10 minutes it took him to show me the parts of this thing working. Then he turned to me and issued what was to become the start of my PHP adventure and what, looking back, may have been the most important moment in my early professional career. “Now go ahead and work on creating our intranet”.

What? A whole “intranet”? All with these html files with <? ?> in them? (yes, short tags, and spaghetti… good days.) Sure, why not? I picked PHP up as fast as the content available on the internet back then could push me forward. I still remember this one very crazy guy we hired that kept talking about this “Object Oriented” stuff that sounded like real voodoo. Jobs came and went, me and a few friends developed a site called Cerrado Mix which was later bought by a local newspaper, it was a party coverage site and it got me into all the cool parties, I was totally cool back then.

There I was, the only PHP developer in Brasil, no one else did this. Or at least that is what it felt like, until in 2006 I ran into this new thing, a “PHP Conference Brasil”, a gathering of people who worked with PHP? What? I’m not alone?

This event changed my career again, showed me not only the local community but the international, I even got to meet this Derick Rethans guy and saw a presentation by a local farm boy turned PHP dev by the name of Guilherme Blanco. But most important of all, this showed me there was a PHP community.

A few months after that, PHPDF was born, my first user group, as a result of meeting Adler Medrado and Pablo Sanchez at and after the conference. The cool thing about this conference is that I vowed to be back in 2007, as a speaker. So in 2007 PHPDF had its first “PHPDF Roadshow”, at which I did my very first talk (Yes, I totally violated Cal’s Bat Shit Crazy Rule and spoke and organized a conference). In 2007 I came back as a speaker to the conference. Not only that I spoke there every year since, until I moved away from Brazil. And I’m now truly honored to be going back there in its 10 year anniversary as a keynote speaker.

What a Ride it has been form there. I moved to SP in 2008, started PHPSP, had my first international conference experience at ZendCon 2008 (trivia, this is where the PHP Ninja Turtles first met). That is actually when i got my first ElePHPant, from Mr. Community Cal Evans. Then I got to go to php[tek] in 2009 and finally broke the international speaker circuit in 2011 and finally move to the Netherlands in 2011, now calling AmsterdamPHP my home.

Thank you Rasmus for kicking this off, thank you Gaston for that first lesson, and thank you community for pushing me along all the steps that came since, I could not possible name everyone who made a difference in this long road, so let’s just go for THE PHP COMMUNITY.


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