E-Periodica began with ETH-Bibliothek's E-Archiving project (2005-2008). It was dedicated to the long-term digital availability of scientific content. In an E-Archiving sub-project, printed journals were retro-digitised and a suitable presentation platform was established.

The innovative and cooperative project e-lib.ch – Swiss Electronic Library initiated the retro.seals.ch project (2008-2013) after the conclusion of E-Archiving. e-lib.ch was funded by the Swiss University Conference (SUC), the ETH Board and the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation.

The retro.seals.ch project was initially realised by the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries in conjunction with ETH-Bibliothek (2008-2012). In 2013, however, the project was transferred fully to ETH-Bibliothek.

In 2015, the back end has been completely revised and further developed. The platform received a new design and a new name: E-Periodica.

In the early days, the contents of E-Periodica focussed on scientific journals. However, the platform's profile was successively expanded and today the range also includes many non-scientific fields.