Apache can refer to a group of Native Americans and their language, but in computer terms, it refers to a piece of open source free software that is used to run servers or computers that host websites. Technically, Apache is officially known as Apache HTTP Server, but most of the time, it is referred to simply as “Apache.” Apache was created by the Apache Software Foundation in 1995. The latest version, 2.0, was developed in 2004.
Apache is one of the four layers of the open source free software stack known as LAMP, which stands for Linux (the operating system used by the server), Apache (the software that provides server functionality), MySQL (for the database), and PHP (the scripting language). Therefore, Apache is used by nearly all WordPress websites.
Theoretically, any computer connected to the internet can function as a server. But most commonly, dedicated servers are used to host websites, and the software that allows them to function as a server is nearly always Apache.
Just as you might expect, a server’s primary function is to deliver or “serve” files to other computers. Thus, when you visit a website, the computer hosting that website “serves” the text, images, and other content from that website to your computer. Servers also handle the operations of all the different parts of a website such as the database, scripts, and user input data.
Apache primarily runs on computers with the Linux operating system, but it can be used with other operating systems. The name Apache was chosen because it sounds like “a patchy”, referring to the original build which was a patchwork collection of other, existing web server programs. The creators liked this name and also how it referenced the tough reputation of the Apache tribe of Native Americans.