In the summer of 2003, David Heinemeier Hansson was building the Basecamp Web application for a small company called 37signals. In the process of developing Basecamp, he created a core of functionality that he wanted to reuse on other applications he was developing. He extracted it and turned it into an open-source project that became Ruby on Rails.
Rails was first released to the public in the summer of 2004 as version 0.5. Hansson presented Ruby on Rails at the 2004 International Ruby Conference. Since its release, Rails has grown in popularity at an incredible pace. Version 1.0 of Rails was released on December 13, 2005. At the time of this writing, Rails is at version 1.2.
Rails' growth is not limited to the existing community of Ruby developers. It has pulled in converts from languages such as Java, PHP, and Perl, among others. By the time you read this, there will be more books available about Ruby on Rails than any other framework from any language. The Ruby on Rails framework has served as a catalyst for incredible growth of awareness and use of the Ruby programming language. The creator of the Ruby programming language, Yukihiro Matsumoto (known online as Matz), has referred to Rails as Ruby's Killer App.
To take a look at some existing applications created using Rails, check out the list of real-world Rails applications maintained on the official Ruby on Rails wiki site at
http://wiki.rubyonrails.org/rails/pages/RealWorldUsage. You ...