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A Brief History of E-commerce

from: Internet Exposed Files

Commerce is an act of business for the sale or purchase of goods or services or both for monetary consideration. And e-commerce is the above said action transacted via the electronic medium.

The most popular activity on the web today is shopping as it offers the widest opportunity to look up the infinite number of items for display for their commercial execution electronically.

Today, e-commerce by far registers the highest quantity of goods and services purchased, more than that of sale directly made through wholesale and retail process. But, that didn't happen overnight.

In order to understand the history of e-commerce one must go to the 1960s when businesses started to use computer networks to transact business electronically. This was done by the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Here, a company having a computer would send or share invoices, order forms, shipping confirmation and other documents with another company's computer. Each company had its own way of formatting then.

In the same year the US military developed ARPAnet in order to pass on crucial communication in the event of a nuclear attack. But it was not until 1982, when ARPAnet switched over to Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. This is the same technological package that powers the modern internet. In order to make the internet transaction smooth the American National Standards had already brought out a format that was globally acknowledged as the standard one for sharing business documents over the electronic network.

By the 1980s major computers mostly belonging to the universities were sending emails, sharing documents and other information through network like the BITNET and USENET. CompuServe was the first network that became popular for home PC users. CompuServe added yet another service in 1980s by the name of Electronic Mail whereby net users could purchase certain items directly from 110 online merchants. This actually laid the foundation for e-commerce.

It was only in 1990, that a researcher by the name of Tim Berners Lee from the European Organization for Nuclear Research announced a hyper text based web. This could be navigated by a user with a simple interface called a browser. He called this the World Wide Web (www). To coincide with this the National Service Foundation lifted their ban on commercial business from operating over the Internet.

This actually paved way for web based commerce. The two leading companies that later transformed the entire ways and methods of e-commerce through the internet in the 1990 were Amazon and eBay. Amazon started with book publishers and sold their books through the net for end consumers which later expanded into a vast range of other items. EBay auctions became a great success with almost any item being bought and sold on their site including used items. From there on e-commerce became the best way for a person to shop especially for bargains.




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