To make information available, a web server must be running on the corresponding computer. The web server responds to requests for documents that are sent to it from a web browser. The contents of the document are transmitted to the web browser, which then displays them on the user's computer.
The first web server was the CERN httpd, which was set up by the two developers of the WWW. In very little time, a number of further web servers sprang up, the most successful being the httpd web server of the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputer Applications), a department of the University of Illinois. This web server was freely available from
the outset and ran on many computer platforms, especially on Unix machines. In February 1995, it was the most widely used web server. However, further development at NCSA was stopped and many webmasters added their own developments and improvements. A small group of these webmasters joined together to coordinate these extensions and to create a central point for further development. The result of combining these improvements (called patches) was that the NCSA httpd became "a patchy server", which evolved into the name Apache for the new server.
The first test version was introduced in April 1995 and the official version 1.0 was released on December 1, 1995. Less than a year after the beginning of development, Apache had overtaken its predecessor as the most widely used web server in the world. Since then, Apache has become more and more popular. The Netcraft report (see http://www.netcraft.com/survey/) shows that it is used more frequently than all other web servers combined. In August of 2002, it had a market share of over sixty percent.
The reasons for the popularity of Apache are many: it offers high performance, is available free of charge, is highly configurable and expandable, is continuously developed by a large developer community, and it can run on almost any computer system: Apache is not limited to Unix variants, it also runs on Mac systems, OS X, OS/390, OS/2, BS2000, and Windows NT.
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