How did "The DAO" come about? What was the process of its formation? Who "made" it happen?
The DAO itself was actually instantiated on the web on 30 April 2016 (block number 1428757), thus beginning a 28-day Creation phase, during which time Ether (ETH) could be sent to the Ethereum account public address of The DAO and DAO tokens would be created at an initial price of 100 tokens for each ETH sent, and thus put under the control of the smart contract of The DAO on the Ethereum blockchain. After the first couple of weeks at a fixed price, the price to purchase DAO tokens rose by 0.05 ETH per 100 DAO tokens per day, until it reached a final price of 1.5 ETH per 100 DAO tokens for the final few days of the Creation phase, which ended on 28 May 2016.
But what happened prior to that, to actually instantiate The DAO?
Developing the program code
The contract code for The DAO was written in an open source process, with all code and descriptive materials posted on GitHub, over a number of months extending back into 2015. The contract code was principally written by the German company slock.it, with global community involvement and review. Slock.it however did not instantiate The DAO itself to begin the creation phase, nor did slock.it create the daohub.org website (DAOhub) which contained information about obtaining DAO tokens.
Realizing that The DAO itself, as program code that resides on the Ethereum blockchain, could not operate a website, the DAOhub website was created by volunteer members of that open source community. FelixA and Auryn Macmillan created daohub.org in early April, initially to be merely a simple set of forums. DAOhub eventually stepped up to host The DAO’s Creation website, and quickly evolved into a much larger operation with a half dozen additional volunteers. Much more detail about DAOhub may be found in this 16 June 2016 article by Auryn : Who or What is DAOhub.org?
Hosting the creation website and instantiating The DAO
As mentioned, DAOhub.org hosted the website for the Creation phase. They did so by using an open source token creation module, a module of code that could have been put on any website, or even multiple websites. It is available today to any website that wishes to offer token creation on the Ethereum blockchain.
While the open source token creation code had been initially written by Slock.it, the Slock.it team got behind an effort to release the code to the wild and thus facilitate the possibility of a "pure DAO" rather than a Slock.it DAO. Slock.it felt it important that the The DAO have the right to not choose them as Contractors, and be able to choose anyone for various Contractor roles. A Slock.it DAO would not have been a "true" DAO as it would have been excessively centralized. DAOhub simply utilized that code and integrated it into the DAOhub website to enable token creation from an Ethereum protocol address for The DAO contract, to which folks could send ether to "create" DAO tokens.
By this emergent process, people who were part of a community wanting to see the Ethereum Computer and the Universal Sharing Network come into existence encouraged the Slock.it team to make what was going to be a Slock.it DAO a more general DAO to fund many projects, any that could get the requisite support from a voting plurality of DAO token holders.
The contract code was actually instantiated on the Ethereum blockchain by a multi-step process with a number of moving parts. The bytecode was placed anonymously on the blockchain from the open source repository GitHub code by several accounts, at several addresses. The bytecode of a number of those addresses was subsequently verified to be correct, matching the source code and compiled source code output. Two of those instances were addresses created through exchanges, deemed to therefore perhaps be one notch even more anonymous. A coin flip ensued to select one of the two, and voila the bytecode of address 0xbb9bc244d798123fde783fcc1c72d3bb8c189413 became the address of The DAO.
That particular address was then added to the daohub.org website to begin the DAO creation phase.
The above is my attempt to capture the early history of this important formation of a decentralized autonomous organization, which fairly quickly became the largest crowdfunded project in history, and a notable and widely covered event in international media with over 12 million Ether added to the contract with USD value in excess of $150 million, eventually receiving some 14 percent of total Ether in circulation at the time, before the exploit on 17 June and eventual sunset after the funds were recovered from The DAO contract via a "hard fork" of the Ethereum blockchain on 20 July 2016.
[NOTE: I originally drafted and refined this Historical overview in a forum post on DAOhub several weeks ago. The version above has therefore already survived vetting and review in a public forum, including by principals involved in the formation of DAOhub, at least one slock.it employee, and other developers. It should all be a pretty solid summary now. Kirk ]