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What is the history of Plone?

What is the history of Plone? When did it start?

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Plone was an idea that started maturing in late 1999, and had its first release in 2001, and has been rapidly gaining friends around the world since then.

For a complete treatise on Plone, its history and the people involved, a good starting point is Martin Aspeli's dissertation Plone: A model of a mature open source project.