In December of 1997 Francis Gastellu released the first private build (v1.0 ß1) of what was originally named SimpleStep, a shell replacement for Windows95. Over the next month several more builds were released, and the project was renamed to LiteSTEP, and described as LiteSTEP "will give your windows the AfterSTEP look&feel."
Between 12/14/97 and 05/06/98, Francis released >23 Beta builds of LiteSTEP v1.0 with the final release of LiteSTEP 1.0 ß23d on 05/06/98. He subsequently opened the Borland C Builder 1.0 based source code under the GNU GPL (General Public License) and handed the development over to Brandon Williams (Floach) and what became the LiteStep Development Team.
And while the source was released under the GPL, it came with the following text stipulating his desires to see LiteSTEP development continue fork free:
Please, do not distribute modified versions on your own or we will end up with a big mess. If you have made modifications that you would like to see in the released package, contact the Litestep project coordinator and submit your work. You may also join the Litestep development team, we welcome everybody who is motivated.
On 07/20/98 the new LiteStep Development Team released their first build of LiteSTEP v1.0 ß23e with the help of Francis.
On 10/27/98 the LiteStep Development Team released "LiteStep Version 0.24.0" based on their source tree re-written in plain C using Visual Studio 5 & 6. The new source supported modular add-ons allowing 3rd party developers to contribute to LiteStep's features. The release included a complete installer with a packaged theme. Fahim then joined the team and they released three "upgrade" builds:
At this point it was decided the code needed to be cleaned up significantly and several new developers were brought on from the module developer community with the focus to clean up the supported modules and core.
On 08/29/99 the team released version 0.24.5 with a new installer and theme. Subsequently development continued for three months until Fahim quit and the LiteStep Development Team lead was given to newcomer, Headius. NeXTer and Message also joined the team at that time. As development progressed and was taken in new directions, jugg, Ender and Visigoth decided to leave the team as well. The last stable release built off of the 0.24.5 code base was dubbed the "1999-11-23" build.
Under the guide of Headius, LiteStep progressed as a C++/COM implementation and found many new features and improvements for Themers. Over the following year until early 2001, the team released many intermediate builds on their goal for a stable 0.24.6 release. Unfortunately because of a decision to proceed with a major rewrite of the shell's internals, a formal version 0.24.6 was never released, even though development continued on the 0.24.6 branch until 2002-02-16. As the rewrite (with a goal of being version 0.25.0) continued, the community stagnated from the lack of formal releases.
In response to this situation, a group of independant developers formed what they named "IndieStep" to continue the 0.24.6 code base while they waited for the formal 0.25.0 development to finalize. Again unfortunately the development of 0.25.0 was abandoned due to varying circumstances, and the majority of the then current development team quit, leaving LiteStep dead in the water except for the continuing IndieStep development.
At this point the LiteStep Development Team lead was given to Message, and he announced work on LiteStep 0.24.7 which would return the LiteStep code base back to stream-lined C++ implementation without COM. So, again over the following year as Message cleaned up the source code and fixed numerous issues, IndieStep continued development waiting for a 0.24.7 release.
However, Message was deployed to Iraq, and was unable to continue his work on 0.24.7. So, The LiteStep Development Team's lead once more changed, and Message gave it to Ilmcuts from the IndieStep effort. Ilmcuts quickly progressed the code base and released the first beta build of 0.24.7 on March 13, 2003. By May 21, 2004, he had the third release candidate of 0.24.7 ready.
Finally the LiteStep Development Team released "LiteStep 0.24.7" on LiteStep's 8th anniversary, and has been hard at work continuing development ever since.