Python started out as a "hobby programming project" in December 1989 by Guido van Rossum at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands. Internal releases of python appeared at CWI in 1990. Python was released to the public for the first time on February 20, 1991.
On how python began written by van Rossum in 1996:
...In December 1989, I was looking for a "hobby" programming project that would keep me occupied during the week around Christmas. My office ... would be closed, but I had a home computer, and not much else on my hands. I decided to write an interpreter for the new scripting language I had been thinking about lately: a descendant of ABC that would appeal to Unix/C hackers. I chose Python as a working title for the project, being in a slightly irreverent mood (and a big fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus). — Guido van Rossum
Python was supposed to be a successor to the ABC language capable of handling exceptions and interfacing with the Amoeba operating system. But with its strong emphasis on being "programmer friendly" it quickly evolved as a popular choice of language among programmers for development and fast prototyping. The reasons are mentioned in the following sections.