On 16 November 1994, we first made public the prototype version of the Tree of Life Web Project. At that time, it was a series of static web pages, with trees made out of text characters, created by a special version of MacClade.
This was more than three years before Google existed, and more than a year before the research project that led to Google began. In November 1994, Wikipedia was still more than six years away, Facebook was nine years in the future, and YouTube more than 10 years away.
In the years that followed, the Tree of Life Web Project was nurtured by a host of people on the home team (both deeper in the past and more recent), along with hundreds of biologists from around the world who contributed content.
Although the project is still alive (it still gets over a million separate visitors a year, from many countries), it has been relatively dormant, awaiting someone with a passion to take it over and reinvigorate it.
It’s been a good 25 years; it’s hard to believe it’s been that long.