As the specification effort for HTTP began to take the form of complete specifications, we needed server software that could both effectively demonstrate the proposed standard protocol and serve as a test-bed for worthwhile extensions. At the time, the most popular HTTP server (httpd) was the public domain software developed by Rob McCool at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (NCSA). However, development had stalled after Rob left NCSA in mid-1994, and many webmasters had developed their own extensions and bug fixes that were in need of a common distribution. A group of us created a mailing list for the purpose of coordinating our changes as "patches" to the original source. In the process, we created the Apache HTTP Server Project
In case you ever wondered if Apache was named for the helicopter or its eponymous Native American tribe. Another reason to remember not to take yourself too seriously.