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Early E - Commerce History
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Early E     -     commerce History

The e-commerce industry, one of the innovations of the Internet age that allows people to purchase products without ever leaving comfort of their homes, had surprisingly interesting beginnings.

English inventor and entrepreneur Michael Aldrich is credited with creating the predecessor to online shopping. In 1979 Aldrich connected a television set to a transaction processing computer, thereby inventing “teleshopping” and sparking a revolutionary concept—the ability to shop from home—which, today, defines the e-commerce industry.

Amazon was one of the earliest websites to begin shaping the e-commerce industry as we know it. As the first store that was unbounded by physical limitations, Amazon provided people with a service that was unparalleled at the time.

The story of Amazon’s beginnings is something that has been repeated time and again with successful websites that began as innovative start-ups, such as Facebook and Google.

After graduating from Princeton University with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and later serving as senior vice president with a Wall Street investment bank, Jeff Bezos moved to Seattle to pursue something new.

Though he didn’t know much about the Internet at the time, he did understand two important things about it: it was growing at an exponential rate, and it harbored untold potential.

Bezos decided to dive into the world of e-commerce by launching Amazon (originally named Cadabra) in 1995.

Amazon started off as a bookselling site whose revolutionizing premise was the conversion of an analog business model into a digital one. Book lovers with Internet access were provided with a selection of hundreds of thousands of books without ever having to step foot in a library or brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Amazon has since branched out to become the large wholesale retailer of nearly any product imaginable. The site connects shoppers with a cornucopia of sellers to choose from, including independent sellers and large corporations alike.

eBay is another example of an early e-commerce site that is still up and running. Launched in 1995, the site provided, and continues to provide, a way for people to cut out the middle man by creating their own auctions and having other users bid directly on their products.

Yahoo was also founded in 1995, and Google in 1998. Shortly after their respective launchings, both companies initiated their own form of web-based storefronts: Yahoo! Auction and Google Shopping.

Tracing the e-commerce industry from its beginnings as a concept in Michael Aldrich’s mind in the 1970s, and continuing to follow its development through the launchings of a few humble start-up websites in the late 1990s, it’s almost difficult to believe that the industry has blossomed into its current state in such a short period of time.


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