Digital ethics, also known as computer ethics or information ethics, is now a lively field that draws a lot of attention, but how did it come about and what were the developments that lead to its existence? What are the traditions, the concerns, the technological and social developments that pushed digital ethics? How did ethical issues change with digitalisation of human life? How did the traditional discipline of philosophy respond? The article provides an overview, proposing historical epochs: ‘pre-modernity’ prior to digital computation over data, via the ‘modernity’ of digital data processing to our present ‘post-modernity’ when not only the data is digital, but our lives themselves are largely digital. In each section, the situation in technology and society is sketched, and then the developments in digital ethics are explained. Finally, a brief outlook is provided.