History of Content Management System (CMS)

Although Content Management System (CMS) tech has become ubiquitous today, it is still interesting to look back and understand the journey it has been through to get to where it is today. Below I cover a brief history of how CMS came into the web space and how it has evolved over the years.

Figure 1: A look back at the stages of evolution for CMS

If you are a web content editor, blogger, or digital marketer, you almost certainly work with a CMS every day. Content management has become simplified post the introduction of CMS technologies, which is why, as of 2022, 68.9% of all global websites use CMS. This is a huge market share!

Web 1.0, Before CMS (1990 – 1995):

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, used the term Web 1.0 to denote the earliest version of the internet. He also proposed an internet-based hypertext system HTML in 1989 and wrote the browser and server-side software in 1990.

Monolithic Enterprise CMS (1995-2000):

Around 1995, with the introduction of server-side scripting like Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) and Active Server Pages (ASP), the first CMS like technologies started to evolve, with the addition of Java Server Pages (JSP) in 1999.

In 1995, FileNet introduced a complete integrated document management solution, which is still considered to be the first real content management solution.

This is when many enterprise CMSs started to appear, the most notable being Interwoven (1995), Documentum (1996), FatWire (1996), Future Tense (1996), Inso (1996), EPiServer (1997) and Sitecore (1999).

Web 2.0 and Open-Source CMS (2000):

By the early 2000s, CMS’s systems started to dominate the web market, and open-source content management systems and frameworks like Drupal (2000), WordPress (2003), SquareSpace (2003), later Weebly (2006), and Wix (2006) started to appear.

These building platforms provided a way to build small, low-cost websites without any knowledge of HTML, CSS and coding.

After this quick overview of the history of CMS, it is clear that the invention of server-side scripting in 1995 gave huge momentum to CMS technology while the open-source CMS era in 2000 helped widen its reach and made it more popular and cost effective. In the next blog, I will cover the modern CMS from 2010 onward and where they are heading in the future. Click here for the next part.



  • https://www.webdesignmuseum.org/timeline/apple-1997
  • http://info.cern.ch/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/
  • https://www.searchenginejournal.com/cms-market-share/454039/
  • https://home.cern/

Author Details

Anup Sinha

Anup is a Senior Drupal consultant and an AI enthusiast with 10 years of experience working as a CMS developer and lead along with consultant role in Education and Telecom domain. He likes to write technical blogs on Drupal CMS and have a blog page on Medium - https://medium.com/@anupeie.fiem.

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