In late 1996, I needed a tool for myself to do basic HTTP transfers. I wanted the transfers to download currency rates a few times a day so that the currency exchange service I was writing for my IRC bot always had new data to work with. I found an existing little open-source tool that was focused and did the job almost the way I wanted it to do. The tool was called httpget. I first submitted a few patches to fix some minor issues but was soon offered to take over maintenance of that little project. I did. I then started developing it further, and when it got support for more protocols, it was renamed to urlget.
A little later, I added upload support as well, and again it had a misleading name. On March 20, 1998, I did the first release under yet a new name. This time I called it curl, and it handled HTTP, GOPHER, and FTP. Of course, all of those were my spare time projects. I worked as an embedded systems developer during the days. When curl was created and shipped, I wanted it to shine, work, and improve. So, I've never stopped working on that.