Major milestones in the history of eCommerce

Believe it or not, but Pizza Hut sold its first pizza online before Amazon sold its first book. A lot has changed since then for both Amazon and Pizza Hut. Amazon is on it’s verge of becoming the first trillion dollar company whereas Pizza Hut is leading the pizza market with a whooping market share of 25.1% as of 2016. Over the past decade world wide web and eCommerce has changed the way we socialize and shop drastically. Let’s take a look at some of the major milestones in the history of eCommerce.

1991 — Origin of World Wide Web

In 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (a software engineer at CERN) shared his first proposal for an information management system. In October 1990, he had written three fundamental aspects of today’s web:

  1. HTML: HyperText Markup Language.
  2. URI (or URL): Uniform Resource Identifier.
  3. HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol.

1994 — Netscape Navigator 1.0 was born and Pizza sold its first pizza online

  • Netscape launched Navigator 1.0 into the market in 1994 and it quickly became the first widely used web browser. The company went public within a year of Netscape’s launch and was valued close to $3 billion.
  • On September 9, 2013, Pizza Hut tweeted a photo on twitter claiming the first-ever online purchase was a Pizza Hut pizza in 1994. It was a large pepperoni, mushroom pizza with extra cheese. It may come as a shock to you, but Hobbes Internet Timeline confirms it. However, there are some speculations that someone beat Pizza Hut by a week or so by purchasing a CD.

1995 — Global leader of E-commerce — sold its first book online. eBay was founded.

  • John Wainwright, principal architect of two computer languages, ScriptX and Maxscript placed an order of Douglas Hofstadter’s “Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Model Of The Fundamental Mechanisms of Thoughts.” The website he used to place the order was none other than Wainwright still has the book and the original packing slip from Amazon.


  • On September, 1995 AuctionWeb was founded by a computer programmer Pierre Omidyar in California. One of the first sale on AuctionWeb was a broken laser printer. AuctionWeb changed its name to eBay in September 1997.
  • DoubleClick, one of the first services to serve ads on internet was launched. In 2008, Google acquired DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in cash.

1996 — Online retail sale touched $1 billion

1998 — Revolution of online payments

Confinity, a company that developed security software for handheld devices was established in 1998. In 2000, Confinity merged with an online banking company founded by Elon Musk and in 2001 was rebranded as Paypal. Paypal was later acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.

1999 — Alibaba launched its operations in China

  • Jack Ma founded in China. It is the world’s largest retailer as of April 2016 surpassing Walmart with operations in over 190 countries as well as one of the largest internet companies.
  • Amazon patents it’s 1-Click service, which allows users to make faster purchases.

2000 — MafiaBoy — The kid who took down the Internet

  • On February 7, 2000 a 15 years old canadian kid named Michael Calce using the handle MafiaBoy staged one of the biggest denial-of-service(DoS) attacks ever recorded on internet. MafiaBoy staged a classic DoS attack lasting a week. As a result, several top sites including Yahoo!,,, Dell, eBay, CNN etc collapsed. U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations estimated that the affected sites suffered $1.7 billion in damages.
  • There were 361 million internet users globally in 2000 which is close to two-third of the size of Facebook today. Revenue from U.S. online shopping totals over $25 billion.
  • Walmart launches it’s website, allowing customers to shop online.
  • Google launched Adwords to allows advertisers to show advertisements in Google search results.

2001 — Amazon shifts their watchwords from “get big fast” to “march to profitability”

  • After losing $2.8 billion since it was founded in 1995, Amazon reported net income of $5 million or one cent per share in the fourth quarter. Total sales in the same quarter for Amazon were $1.12 billion, compared with $972 million a year back.
  • Priceline also reported its first ever profit in the second quarter of the same year. Priceline’s net income reached $11.7 million, or 5 cents per share.
  • Newegg, a prominent online marketplace for technology launched in U.S.


As per the Census Bureau of Department of Commerce, total e-commerce sale in U.S. were estimated at $45.6 billion, an increase of 26.9% from 2001.

2003 — Apple launches iTunes in April 2003.

  • On December 2003, Apple announced that users have purchased and downloaded more than 25 million songs. The 25 millionth song, purchased was “Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” by Frank Sinatra.
  • Weekly online retail sales reach a record setting $2 billion, growing more than 25% from 2002.
  • Google launches Adsense, allowing advertisers to promote their products and services on web.

2004 — Birth of Facebook

  • In February 2004, Mark Zukerberg launched “”. It became in August 2005, after the address was purchased for $200,000.
  • Google goes public with a price of $85 per share.

2005 — Youtube goes online

  • You can find the first 10 videos posted on Youtube here.
  • Amazon launched its Amazon Prime service.
  • The term “Cyber Monday” was used for the first time for the Monday after Thanksgiving by marketing companies persuade people to shop online.


U.S. online retail sale crossed $100 billion.


First web transaction via mobile was recorded.


  • Google launched its peer-to-peer payment service know as Google Wallet.
  • Netflix lost 800,000 subscribers in its third quarter due to price hike.


  • B2C eCommerce sales crossed $1 trillion worldwide.
  • Asia-Pacific surpasses North America to become world’s largest market for B2C eCommerce sales.


  • China became the world’s largest eCommerce market in the world.
  • E-Commerce sales in U.S. crossed $260 billion accounted 5.8% of total retail sale.


Alibaba recorded a sale of $9.3 billion on Single’s Day, an entertaining festival popular among young Chinese people, to celebrate the fact that they are proud of being single.


  • Cyber Monday sets a new record of $3 billion in sales.
  • Pinterest enters into eCommerce by adding a feature known as Buyable pins which allow users to sell their pins to other users.
  • Single’s Day sale on Alibaba sites reached $14.3 billion.


  • Walmart acquired for $3 billion.
  • Single’s Day sale on Alibaba reached $17.6 billion

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