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"Pretty Home Page" is not found in official PHP history. But I saw several people call PHP that way on the internet, and even in some books, teaching & publications:

Was "Pretty Home Page" just a funny nickname of PHP? Or was it once PHP's real name?

Someone has already asked this question in another forum, but received no conclusive answers: OFF-TOPIC Original PHP acronym

I looked at revision history of the Wikipedia page on PHP, but there are too many revisions. There's a tool called WikiBlame to find addition/removal, but I didn't find anything with it.

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  • 12
    The wikipedia page on PHP says, right at the top, that its creator called it Personal Home Pages. Is there some reason to doubt that? Jul 4 at 21:16
  • 9
    5 minutes reading at php.net finds this document, which I assume to be written by Rasmus Lerdorf, in which the author says it was Personal Home Pages. Jul 4 at 21:24
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    Fun part, my memory does as well tell me Pretty HomePage as original name. Then again, a quick googling did bring up many hits, but not any good/authoritative reference
    – Raffzahn
    Jul 4 at 22:06
  • 7
    Oh, interesting. I always knew it as PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. I guess I'm not old enough to be around the Pretty Home Page usage.
    – justhalf
    Jul 5 at 8:34
  • 5
    PHP was never pretty and will never be :) I knew it as "Personal Hypertext Processor" I touched it aroun 2000/2001 (I think it was PHP 3.x) and even then nobody with at least some experience in other languages would have called PHP pretty Jul 5 at 10:29
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The 2013 3rd Edition of Programming PHP, by Kevin Tatroe, Peter Maclntyre and Rasmus Lerdorf, might be authoritative here, as Rasmus Lerdorf is the original creator or PHP. Page 2 and 3 show a copy of a 1995 Usenet posting by him with the subject

  • Announce: Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools)

presenting PHP Version 1.0 to comp.infosystems.www.authoring.cgi. Interestingly the full name is never mentioned before or after that within the book. Only PHP is used in all self referencing instances. The same is true for the second edition from 2006.


This is kind of an interesting find to me, as I would have as well answered 'Pretty Home Page' or 'Pretty Homepage Processor' when asked about the meaning of PHP. Right away, without any further thinking. Heck, even Pro-Linux mentioned 'Pretty Homepage' as first name in their review for 'Programming PHP'. At least I'm not the only one. It would be really interesting where this somewhat common theme stems from.

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  • 18
    Many people are familiar with PGP, which stands for "Pretty Good Privacy"...
    – user1686
    Jul 5 at 5:33
  • 28
    @user1686 with that line of thought, PHP would stand for Pretty Horrible Privacy. Just kidding :D
    – DungSaga
    Jul 5 at 8:00
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    @DungSaga Pretty Horrible to Program?
    – user253751
    Jul 5 at 10:39
  • 13
    As does LISP: Lots of Irritating, Silly Parentheses
    – Barmar
    Jul 5 at 13:32
  • 11
    "It would be really interesting where this somewhat common theme stems from" - That's exactly what the question was. I don't see how this post answers the question. Jul 5 at 17:37
6

A quick Google search for PHP returns the Wikipedia entry in the top results, where it states, "PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page", citing the php.net history page as its source:

PHP as it's known today is actually the successor to a product named PHP/FI. Created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, the very first incarnation of PHP was a simple set of Common Gateway Interface (CGI) binaries written in the C programming language. Originally used for tracking visits to his online resume, he named the suite of scripts "Personal Home Page Tools," more frequently referenced as "PHP Tools."

Although there are many references online to PHP as "Pretty Home Page" there does not seem to be a definitive reference but seems to be one of those things which has become "common knowledge", perhaps erroneously.

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    I was using PHP in 1999, at the time Rasmus was less involved in development but I do remember him mentioning on the mailing list that PHP does not stand for anything. He once called a pre-release compiler to parse preliminary code Personal Home Page Tools and that compiler evolved into PHP. But the PHP we know today has always had a name consisting of three uppercase consonants, but is itself not an acronym.
    – dotancohen
    Jul 6 at 12:09
6

Why do some people say PHP was “Pretty Home Page”?

You've compiled a list, but unfortunately you didn't share why the mentioned people said so.

In my past, no person known to me ever used that wording, and if so, I would have asked for more.

One person I remotely learned about recently, Raffzahn, has already shared that this was from memory (and you know how well human memory serves when it's about exact things).

Was it once PHP's real name?

No.

A resemblance I can see with "Personal Home Page Tools" which has the following background (this is also documented on older slides from Rasums if memory serves me well):

PHP as it's known today is actually the successor to a product named PHP/FI. Created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, the very first incarnation of PHP was a simple set of Common Gateway Interface (CGI) binaries written in the C programming language. Originally used for tracking visits to his online resume, he named the suite of scripts "Personal Home Page Tools," more frequently referenced as "PHP Tools."

But it's really long ago. As you're curious, this is the oldest references I could find in the Google Index dating back to 2001/2002 (published date of Google index: 18.04.2002):


7.3. Технологии серверного звена, используемые при разработке ВЕБ-систем. PHP (Pretty Home Page) – язык программирования динамических ВЕБ-сайтов: назначение, преимущества и недостатки, основные возможности, место в архитектуре ВЕБ-систем, синтаксис, приёмы программирования.

machine translation:

7.3 Server-tier technologies used in the development of Web-based systems. PHP (Pretty Home Page) - programming language for dynamic WEB-sites: purpose, Advantages and disadvantages, basic features, place in the architecture of WEB-systems, syntax, programming routines.


And I then can find quite some references in the Internet of German language.

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    I asked because I want to know why some people said that
    – DungSaga
    Jul 6 at 17:41
  • 5
    In that case, the only real solution is to ask those people. We cannot read their minds. We cannot possibly know why they said what they said. Only they know. Jul 6 at 18:52
  • 3
    I have to assume that Russian source is not original, especially since it gives an English-language acronym which would obviously not translate directly into Russian. Tracking down their source might be tricky though. Jul 7 at 13:57
  • @DarrelHoffman: I was also under the impression that it could not be in the original language but this is speculation from my end. It is merely a beacon for the date in the Google index. I do not know how reliable that property is though. First time on archive.org is AUG 10, 2020 - 22:40:58 and Cloudflare serving the file tells last-modified: Thu, 31 Oct 2019 08:08:04 GMT with etag: W/"5dba9664-11112e". CreationDate from PDF: Sat Apr 27 00:08:45 2019 CEST.
    – hakre
    Jul 7 at 15:44

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