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History of eCommerce – When and How it Began?

March 16, 2020
History of eCommerce

Now is the time to look back at the history of eCommerce to appreciate the pioneers. eCommerce or Digital Commerce is a technology-agnostic way of retailing which has scaled the market exponentially for a retailer. Regardless of which generation they come from, shopping online is something every individual participates in every day. It seems almost impossible to live without eCommerce.

While thinking about the history of this biggest commerce transformation, we mistake it by thinking that Amazon or eBay was its pioneer. The history of eCommerce timeline started almost 40 years ago. The world’s first eCommerce company was the Boston Computer Exchange. The company was launched in 1982 and its primary function was to sell used computers. The company had a Bulletin board system based marketplace which made use of Delphi online service as a platform to store online database of products.

World's First eCommerce Company

However online shopping only became possible when the internet made public in 1991. Amazon became the first eCommerce website that started selling products via the internet. Since the inception of eCommerce, shopping has become convenient, safe, and hasslefree.

Before 1982 Era

Michael Aldrich was the man behind the invention of the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) that paved the way for electronic commerce. In 1979, using a telephone line, Aldrich connected a transaction processing computer to a television set and coined the term – Teleshopping, meaning shopping at a distance. 

Later, EDI replaced traditional mailing and faxing by providing the capability to digitally transfer the data from one computer to another. The users were able to do multiple business transactions including invoices and order details using a data format meeting the ANSI ASC X12, a predominant set of standards in the USA. There was no human interaction required to transfer the data.

Here is an infographic, showcasing the history of eCommerce timeline past 1982:

History of eCommerce
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