First version of PHP was not written in Perl

There is an opinion that several first versions of PHP programming language were written in Perl language.

Sometimes even some clever people state it as a fact.

I've heard this statement several times and I was sure that it is true. Well, it looks like it can be true. I'm writing a lot of Perl, so I was pleased to think that Perl was used to create PHP.

On May 16 2015 on YAPC::Russia conference Ivan Serezhkin was showing his presentation "Perl long history". And he has mention that PHP has never been written in Perl and PHP was written in C from the very beginning.

So, I've decided to check it.

Wikipedia states that PHP was written in 1994 with C programming language. The 1.0 version has arrived at 1995 and then the language was called "Personal Home Page/Forms Interpreter" or PHP/FI.

PHP source code is hosted on GitHub but it contains only changes from 1999. On PHP site there is a page Unsupported Historical Releases but the first version on this page is 3.0.x.

It wasn't easy, but at last I've found the source code of PHP version 1.0: To make it more convinient I've put that files on GitHub.

Here is a perl oneliner to count the number of different kind of files in the PHP first version source coude:

$ ls -1 | perl -nalE '/(\..*?)$/; say $1' | sort | uniq -c | sort -r
9 .c
6 .h

As you can see there is no Perl in PHP version 1. The very first PHP version was written in C from the very beginning. And the story that first version of PHP was written in Perl is just a myth.

Ivan Bessarabov

4 august 2018

This text is also available in Russian language