Monero was launched in April 2014. It was a fair, pre-announced launch of the CryptoNote reference code. There was no premine or instamine, and no portion of the block reward goes to development. See the original Bitcointalk thread here. The founder, thankful_for_today, proposed some controversial changes that the community disagreed with. A fallout ensued, and the Monero Core Team forked the project with the community following this new Core Team. This Core Team has provided oversight since.
Monero has made several large improvements since launch. The blockchain was migrated to a different database structure to provide greater efficiency and flexibility, minimum ring signature sizes were set so that all transactions were private by mandate, and RingCT was implemented to hide the transaction amounts. Nearly all improvements have provided improvements to security or privacy, or they have facilitated use. Monero continues to develop with goals of privacy and security first, ease of use and efficiency second.