In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first web browser, WorldWideWeb, using a NeXT computer. Our ability to communicate with the world and acquire information was transformed overnight. It did not take long at all after that for entrepreneurs and merchants to smell the revenue possible in this new technology. But smelling money doesn’t do anyone any good unless they can get it in their hands. That’s where credit cards and online payment processing came in.
In 1992, Book Stacks Unlimited in Cleveland opened a commercial sales website (www.books.com) selling books online with credit card processing. Although online payment processing was recognized as the most efficient and realistic way to keep online sales running smoothly, the big question was “Is this really secure?” That big question kept a lot of credit cards in cold storage until….
In 1994, Netscape released the Navigator browser in October under the code name Mozilla. Netscape 1.0 was introduced in late 1994 with SSL encryption that made transactions secure. Happy Day!
With Internet security finally buttoned down and online payment processing on the rise, it was only a matter of time before, in1995, the US National Science Foundation lifted its former strict prohibition of commercial enterprise on the Internet.
On Thursday 27 April 1995, the purchase of a book by Paul Stanfield, Product Manager for CompuServe UK, from W H Smith's shop within CompuServe's UK Shopping Centre is the UK's first national online shopping service secure transaction and the rest is history, including these historic milestones:
1995: Jeff Bezos launches Amazon.com.
1998: Electronic postal stamps can be purchased and downloaded for printing from the Web.
2011: Quidsi.com, parent company of Diapers.com, acquired by Amazon.com for $500 million in cash plus $45 million in debt and other obligations. GSI Commerce, a company specializing in creating, developing and running online shopping sites for brick and mortar businesses, acquired by eBay for $2.4 billion.
2012: US eCommerce and Online Retail sales projected to reach $226 billion, an increase of 12 percent over 2011.
2012: US eCommerce and Online Retail holiday sales reach $33.8 billion, up 13 percent.