This issue marks the 20th anniversary of Palaeontologia Electronica (PE). From modest beginnings as a series of discussions on the PaleoNet listserver in 1996, it has become a well-recognised venue for publication and dissemination of research, techniques, and resources in palaeontology. The journal has many "firsts" to its credit, from the first species named on the internet, the first scientific journal with a plain-language abstract, and the first PDF "reprints" in palaeontology. Over 20 years PE also tried many new approaches that weren't subsequently adopted by the broader scientific community, such as audio abstracts and animated journal covers. This anniversary issue gives us an opportunity to look back at the beginnings of the journal, its initial aims and aspirations, and to chronicle its evolution. It is as much a reflection of the changing nature of PE as it is a reminder of the larger scale changes that have taken place in the world of palaeontology, the internet, and our community over the past two decades.