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E-commerce pop quiz: what was the first thing sold over the internet? And when did it happen?
There are two answers. And which one you go for depends on your definition of the internet.
One surprising response is: a tiny amount of marijuana. And in 1971. Or ’72. Those involved, perhaps understandably, are a bit fuzzy on the specifics. What is clear is that a bunch of Stanford University students brokered the transaction. And it was handled via Arpanet, a pre-cursor to the internet that today we can’t live without.
For the less surprising answer, we fast-forward to August 1994, and to the buying, of a Sting CD, on netmarket.com. Here, every step the buyer took was secure and encrypted: the financial exchange handled 100% online (and not in the digs of a student). The disc, by the way, the poetically named Ten Summoner’s Tales, cost the buyer $12.48 (plus shipping).
Today, on Music Magpie, it’s yours for £2.99 (or £2.50 via the site’s two-for-a-fiver offer). Shipping included.