The first version of PHP was named Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools) when it was released by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1995. PHP 1 can still be downloaded today from museum.php.net. Weighing in at only 26 kilobytes in size, php-108.tar.gz is diminutive by today's standards, yet it was capable of allowing users to implement guestbooks and other form-processing applications.
PHP 2 introduced built-in support for accessing databases, cookie handling, and user-defined functions. It was released in 1997, and by the following year, around 1% of sites on the internet were using PHP.
However, PHP 3 was the first release to closely resemble today's incarnation of PHP. A rewrite of the underlying parser by Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski led to what was arguably a different language; accordingly, it was renamed to simply PHP, which was a recursive acronym for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor". This was released in 1998 and the ease of extending the language played a large part in its tremendous success, as this aspect attracted dozens of developers to submit a variety of modules.