This book is devoted to developing applications with the Apache web server API, so we turn our attention now to the short history of the Apache project.
The Apache project began in 1995 when a group of eight volunteers, seeing that web software was becoming increasingly commercialized, got together to create a supported open source web server. Apache began as an enhanced version of the public-domain NCSA server but steadily diverged from the original. Many new features have been added to Apache over the years: significant features include the ability for a single server to host multiple virtual web sites, a smorgasbord of authentication schemes, and the ability for the server to act as a caching proxy. In some cases, Apache is way ahead of the commercial vendors in the features wars. For example, at the time this book was written only the Apache web server had implemented the HTTP/1.1 Digest Authentication scheme.
Internally the server has been completely redesigned to use a modular and extensible architecture, turning it into what the authors describe as a "web server toolkit." In fact, there's very little of the original NCSA httpd source code left within Apache. The main NCSA legacy is the configuration files, which remain backward-compatible with NCSA httpd.
Apache's success has been phenomenal. In less than three years, Apache has risen from relative obscurity to the position of market leader. Netcraft, a British market research company that monitors ...