Phylogenetic web-pages and systematic sites are a surprisingly popular hobby in the Internet nowadays. This was not always the case. In the Dark Ages of the Web [circa 1995] there was only a handful of good sites online. Most of them dealt with such popular creatures as dinosaurs. This left some groups, which were interesting in their own right, uncovered.
One of the few phylogenetic taxonomy sites trying to cover other groups was the Tree of Life project, but it was still in its infancy. At the time I was a relative newbie in both university life and taxonomic science. During my high school years, I had already collected some species lists from various sources and I thirsted for more phylogenetic and taxonomic information.
Luckily for me, my teacher, Professor Mikael Fortelius, recommended that I contact Dr. Larry Huldén at the Finnish Museum of Natural History. Dr. Huldén was very understanding and we had long discussions about various taxonomic ideas. He had also collected numerous listings of species, which he was willing to give me. He also showed me how to do trees with ascii-characters.
Sometime later I was browsing the net, and happened upon a site called "The Dinosauricon". I was very impressed by the trees and artwork presented there and contacted the site's author Mike Keesey, offering him some trees of the groups that appeared to be less than perfectly presented. What ensued was a very fruitful correspondence between us. At that time I started to do my ascii-trees in html-format.
During my summer break in 1997 I started to transfer all my trees to html. By the end of summer I had finished quite a workable hyperlinked tree of chordates. That autumn I was entertaining myself in Michael Haldin's office, who was the supervisor of the Finnish Museum of Natural History Data Department. One thing led to another and we decided to upload my trees to a subsection of the then developed FMNH website. My tree was still totally unconnected to the main Internet because there were no links to them from anywhere. At that time they served only as an internal quick reference.
From time to time I updated some of the sub-trees and gave some sub-trees to Mike, when somebody asked a question about basal bird phylogenetics in the Vertebrate Paleontology Discussion list. At the time I was working on my M.Sc. thesis on the evolution and classification of Mesozoic birds, and had already made the trees. I gave her the url to my trees at VRTPaleo, which meant that my little project was now public!
A couple of months later I started to recive e-mails from various people asking if they could link their similar projects to mine. Who was I to say no? After all, I had received some generous help from numerous other people, so it was my time to contribute to the advancement of taxonomic science.
For years I tried to update the Archive more or less frequently, but my day-job was demanding more and more of my time, and due that I was forced to remove myself more and more from the Museum. Finally in 2007 this reaced a braking point, I find it impossible to take the neccecery time to sit down an uplod the current update in FMNH's server, although I was still addind information to offline version. Due this I decided to transfer the Archive to a more conviniedt location under the Unversity of Helsinki server's, to be able to do a more regular updates of it. The move happened at spring 2008. Despite my best hopes expressed during the lauch of the Archive in new location. I was unable to do more updates during 2008 and 2009. And poor Archive has suffered due my lack of commitment to it for over 1˝ years. I can only hope that during 2010 I'll have more free time and energy in my hands to do more frequent updates.
So, that is where I am at present. I'm still trying to add and receive all the data I can get to my trees. So what started as a nice little exercise in practical taxonomy has turned into a fulltime job.