A Brief History of E-Commerce


E-commerce (or electronic marketing as it was originally called) did not start with Amazon.com, EBay, or the iTunes Store, nor with anything to do with the Internet at all, as is commonly believed.

E-Commerce card

To find the original E-Commerce roots one has to dig back to the 1970's when Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) came to light, meaning credit cards and electronic bank transfers.

Once shoppers had credit cards in hand, extensions of shopping away from brick & mortar retail stores began to grow like weeds in the garden. One of the first E-Commerce sites was your everyday TV set, which hosted such programming as The Shopper's Channel and “As Seen on TV” adverts, where a product was marketed right in your living room, with the expectation that you would pick up your telephone and purchase with your new plastic credit card.

E-Commerce Computer

This was an early form of E-Commerce that continued to grow tremendously - albeit slower then it is growing today. Still pre-internet, E-Commerce was taking hold in the areas of software and video game sales. During the early 90's when crude-by-today's standards PCs started appearing on everyone's office, home, and school desk, companies like IBM started the now obscure form of E-Commerce called CDROM Try n' Buy.

These were special CDs that contained trial versions of software and games that could be unlocked by calling a free phone number and giving the operator your credit card number. In this way, software developers could package and deliver function-disabled versions of their products and deliver to potential clients, giving users a chance to take the software for a spin before purchasing. Sound somewhat familiar?

E-Commerce Game

It should to anyone who nowadays would download a trial version of a software application from the Internet before actually purchasing online with a credit card or via Pay Pal.