The History of WordPress: 2003 – 2016

WordPress Evolution

We just love WordPress! It is powerful, versatile, and adaptable. But it didn’t start that way. Since its first release on May 27, 2003, it has been continuously evolving. In almost 13 years and over 50 versions, it has grown from a simple blogging platform to the most popular CMS on the planet. Today, we’d like to talk about the most significant changes to WordPress functionality and the user interface. What did it look like and what epic upgrades did it go through? Let’s find out!

First Release – 0.7 – May 27, 2003

This was the first WordPress version, and unlike all the following releases it wasn’t named after a famous jazz musician. It was so simple that there was no dashboard at all! There were three status modes for a post: “Publish,” “Draft,” and “Private.”

WordPress 1.2 – Mingus – May 22, 2004

Mingus introduced the WordPress plugin architecture of today. Other new features included sub categories, custom fields, thumbnail creation, post preview, encrypted passwords, and the ability to ping more than one service at a time.

WordPress 1.5 – Strayhorn – February 17, 2005

With this release WordPress introduced the option for pages in addition to posts. The crowd goes wild! The first glimpse of a dashboard appears and multiple theme support was included. However, the admin panel was not powered by Ajax and was slow.

WordPress 2.0 – Duke – December 26, 2005


This Christmas gift release brought a major change to the user interface. The big blue header makes its first appearance as does the Akismet Spam Protection plugin. It is the first version to include the full WYSIWYG editor. It also included such goodies as:

  • Image/File Uploading
  • Theme preview via thumbnail
  • Improved Administration abilities via Ajax
  • Improved Posting Speed
  • New Hooks for Developers

WordPress 2.1 – Ella – January 22, 2007


The look and functionality remained almost the same. The Admin Panel interface got faster and features such as Spell Check, Comments, and Autosave made their debut. There were a few updates to the editor.

WordPress 2.2 – Getz – May 16, 2007

This release introduced widgets. The interface looked simple and functioned almost the same as the one today. The UI didn’t change much but a horde of new features were added such as:

  • Widget system
  • Blogger importer
  • Infinite comment system
  • Full Atom support
  • jQuery

WordPress 2.5 – Brecker – March 29, 2008

Brecker was a breakthrough for the Admin Panel. It was completely redesigned. The dashboard saw the addition of information; and this version introduced the one click upgrade for plug-ins that we take for granted today. An improved visual editor and a built-in gallery were also included. The design began to resemble the current one.


WordPress 2.7 – Coltrane – December 10, 2008


Coltrane brought a huge improvement to the Admin Panel and people loved the makeover. The dashboard became more resourceful and the Admin Panel was beefed up. It included functionality for reply to comments, threaded comments, sticky posts, keyboard shortcuts, and comment paging.

WordPress 2.8 – Baker – June 10, 2009


This release brought improvements to the widget and theme systems but little change in the way of the UI. In addition to the improved widget interface, themes could be managed from the Admin Panel. There were improved admin icons, new screen options, and the short-lived feature, Turbo.

WordPress 2.9 – Carmen – December 19, 2009

Carmen added the ability to raise deleted posts from the grave with an “undo” feature. In addition, goodies like a built-in graphic editor, easy video embeds, built-in image editor, better SEO, and automatic database optimization added to WordPress’s growing popularity.

WordPress 3.0 – Thelonious – June 17, 2010


This release killed Turbo and fixed over 1,200 bugs. It also introduced the default theme Twenty Ten. Other features such as an improved Admin Panel, custom headers and backgrounds, and custom post types were included.

WordPress 3.1 – Reinhardt – February 23, 2011


Editing content got even easier with this release. No more looking for a page in the Admin Panel. Editing could now be done from the front-end. In addition, an AdminBar was added, the post editor was streamlined, and linking to older content was improved.

WordPress 3.3 – Sonny – December 12, 2011

By the time Sonny rolls out, WordPress has over 65 million downloads. There is no doubt; WordPress is big. Sonny brings a new toolbar, drag-and-drop uploader, improved dashboard UI on tablets, and now gives pointer tips for new features. It begins to look and operate more like the WordPress of today.

WordPress 3.4 – Green – June 13, 2012


Green brought significant improvements to the theme system. A sandbox for playing with theme customization, easy Twitter embeds, custom headers and image captions with HTML-like links were some of the new features.

WordPress 3.5 – Elvin – December 11, 2012


Elvin was an early Christmas present for bloggers and developers alike. Media management was completely redesigned. The Twenty Twelve theme was released and the UI became retina-ready.

WordPress 3.7 – Basie – October 24, 2013


This was the first release using the plugin development process. Maintenance and security updates got automated and the password strength meter was improved. Support for languages other than English saw improvement.

WordPress 3.8 – Parker – December 12, 2013


Parker gave WordPress a complete facelift. The new design focused on clarity and simplicity. WordPress got responsive and looked great on any mobile device. WordPress was powerful, beautiful, had better widgets, and an improved theme system. It had the Twenty Fourteen theme and it was all glory.

WordPress 3.9 – Smith – April 16, 2014

The user interface looked the same but there were great improvements and new features. The image editor was developed, visual editor redesigned, gallery preview added, and the HTML media player was improved. Now you could edit widgets and headers in the theme customizer. A new theme browser was also added.

WordPress 4 – Benny – September 4, 2014

Benny was the culmination of more than ten years of determination, ingenuity and hard work. It was the most beautiful, powerful, and versatile WordPress yet. It included a redesigned media library, improved embeds, and a visual editor that keeps tools available at all times.

WordPress 4.1 – Dinah – December 17, 2014

Dinah was focused on security, distraction free writing, and easy language translation. With this release, WordPress was available in over 40 languages. The plugin installer makes recommendations and Vine embeds are now supported. The Twenty Fifteen blog theme is also included.

WordPress 4.2 – Powell – April 23, 2015

This release introduced the Press This tool to make sharing content easier. Extended character support not only added native Chinese, Japanese, and Korean but emojis as well. The theme customizer added browsing and previewing of themes before installation. One-click plugin updates and JavaScript accessibility rounded out the improvements in this release.

WordPress 4.4 – Clifford – December 8, 2015


The most recent release featured responsive images, a new theme, and improved embed features. In addition to post embeds, support for Cloudup, Reddit Comments, ReverbNation, Speaker Deck, and VideoPress was added.

What’s Next?

What do you think is the next big thing for WordPress? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments. We love hearing from you!

BTW WordPress 4.5 will drop soon, so be on the lookout!


About the Author: Alex Frolov is an expert WordPress developer and CMS team leader at PSD2HTML®, where he builds feature-rich sites and powerful plugins.

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