Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Happy Birthday, E-Commerce

The 25th anniversary of online retail almost slipped by me quietly and unobserved. Thanks to Alex Randall, a professor of communication at the University of the Virgin Islands, these birthday wishes are belated. I would have had no idea of the importance of Tuesday, March 4, 1983, were it not for an email Randall sent the Air-L discussion list.

25 years ago yesterday, the proprietors of Boston Computer Exchange -- including one Alex Randall -- sold a computer online via Delphi, a BBS of the time. The buyer was dialed in from Chile.

While it's arguable whether this was the first online sale -- surely, sales had been arranged via email -- the date could very well mark the first time a database of products was synchronized with an online network. And that's notable.

You can watch Randall tell the tale himself.

Any other notable online business milestones? This is fascinating stuff.

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