RSS feeds were first called "backend," a way to identify a file format that Netscape, among other web portals, began to make available to surfers, so they did not have to deal with images or website's formatting to read relevant information they were seeking for.
Occasionally, RDF feeds began to appear more frequently in both big and small websites, which programmers worked diligently to provide their visitors with this new approach to retrieve information the easy way. At a time, open source developers also included RDF site summary in their projects, and syndication became popular by the hand of web applications such as PHP-Nuke, Post-Nuke, phpBB, and many other portal and forum scripts.
Years later, Netscape renamed the RDF format as RSS, standing for Rich Site Summary, an assign it a version number for further development. In march of 1999 the first RSS feed came into the Word Wide Web scene, and under the version number 0.9. However, in July of that same year, the following version was released with a couple of significant changes.
Firstly, the new RSS version 0.91 removed the RDF elements, still present in its predecessor. Second, this was the last version in which development Netscape was involved. The elements comprated on this version and the increasing number of tools to read and create feeds, made RSS 0.91 as popular that being considered officially an obsolete version today, it is still widely used for syndication.
In those early days, feeds distribution was mostly made through Netscape's MyNetscape portal other early syndication portals, but as new software with RSS support was developed, broadcasting was easier, while Netscape dropped the support and tools for this format in 2001, when AOL acquired the company and reformatted the site's structure.
Before the end of 2001, UserLand emerged with a modified RSS 0.91 version, being the company that has kept alive Really Simple Syndication until today. UserLand won the rights to keep Netscape's project alive over RSS-DEV Working Group, a company that was already working on their own RSS version 1 since 2000, introducing back some RDF elements and XML support.
Throughout the past decade, UserLand released RSS versions 0.92, 0.93 and 0.94, which introduced richer metadata inclusion, but these versions never succeeded as version 0.91 did. Major changes in structure and a redubbed acronym for Really Simple Syndication came with RSS version 2.0 released on September 2002, the stable core (upward compatible with 0.91) that we use for syndication today.