Photonic code-division multiple access schemes have been proposed since the 1970s. Although there are many published proposals for new coding schemes, there are many less experimental verifications of these schemes, even fewer reports of successful data transmission, and no commercial systems. We attempt to explain the key factors that have led to the current state-of-the-art. In so doing, we describe the fundamental principles of matched filtering and noise in photonic CDMA schemes. We survey important developments and show how various schemes are related. We review recent experimental advances and compare the published experimental and theoretical performance for different schemes. We discuss the current major issues and likely future directions.