Laozi is traditionally regarded as the founder of religious Taoism. He wrote the book "Taoto Te Ching" (a book full of Taoist philosophy). The breakthrough of Taoism though happened at 142ce.
The school of naturalists, or, the school of Ying and Yang was a philosophy by Zou Yan that combined the theories of the basic five of forces and by them attempted to explain the meaning of the universe. During the Han dynasty, this theory was absorbed into confucionist ideology.
The Tianshi school was the first organized form of Taoism. It was founded by Zhang Daoling who claimed that he witnessed Laozi in the year 142. This movement was recognized by the ruler Cao Cao and Taoism was a major rligion in China.
Taoism gained popularity again in the form of Shangqing school in the time of Tang dynasty. The emperors of Tang dynasty claimed that Laozi was their relative.
Between 397 and 402, Ge Chaofu compiled a series of scriptures that was later called the Lingbao school. It was most influential in the time of Song dynasty. Several Song emperors promoted Taosim and gathered old pieces of writing and published them.
Yuan dynasty became the largest and most important Taoist school in Northern China. The school's representative met Genghis Khan and Khan made it so that the school did not have to pay taxes.
The Daozang, the philosophy book of Taoism was compiled during Jin, Tang and Song dynasties but the version that is alive today was published during the Ming Dynasty. The Daozang consists of about 1500 texts and is separated into three different parts, like the Tripitaka.
The Qing dynasty was more Confucionist than Taoist. During the 18th century, the imperial library was constituted, but excluded virtually all Taoist books which shows the favoring of Confucianism.
Nowadays 170 million Chinese citizens have claimed to practice Taoism. Politically, unlike Confucianism, Taoism prefers philosophical anarchy. Laozi was recognized by many to be one of the first liberal figures. Taoism is for a modern Taoist living in harmony with the Tao. Tao is what makes everything that exists. Living in harmony with it also means that Taoists have a vegetarian diet. Taoism as a religion is very close to the nature and people who practice it tend to visit nature more often than people in other religions. Taoist ethics emphasize the Three Treasures: compassion, frugality and humility.