It's Amazon's birthday! Here's what the site looked liked 20 years ago


Amazon, the website that does not need a descriptive appositive at this point, is turning 20 years old this week. To celebrate, the site is holding the first ever Prime Day—a completely made up holiday where the site has made an assortment of goods available for slightly less than usual. It’s like Black Friday without having to wake up early and risk being trampled by your neighbors.

Instead of focusing on the deals Amazon is offering, we’d like to turn on the Wayback Machine and see what Amazon looked like in its genesis.

The first book the company ever sold was Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought—the first in a long-list of beach reads the site would popularize. It’d be their ninth-highest-selling title of the year.

This sale was processed from Jeff Bezos’ garage. You remember Jeff.

(The eagle-eyed will notice this picture is from 1998. It reminds us of a simpler time when Amazon was only competing with brick-and-mortar bookstores and not everything.)

Seriously, Amazon used to only sell books. Here’s what the website looked like 20 years ago.

It wasn’t long before the company started selling four more types of products, creating what Bezos termed the Big Five: CDs, computer hardware, software, videos, and books.

Years later they added even more items for sale and the site started looking (sort of) similar to what it looks like today.

Soon they were out of Jeff’s garage and into their first office building.

Sales increased and Bezos launched a contest to celebrate and find the site’s millionth customer. Bezos ended up personally delivering the package to the customer in October 1997—in Japan. Here’s the photo-op:

And finally: You’ve come this far, so here are some of the deals you can get on the site today. Enjoy your new Dilbert book:

David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: [email protected]

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