20 things that were happening when online shopping was born in 1994

It's been 20 years since a Sting CD was bought online. Diana and Charles were still married, Steve Jobs had an enormous beard and Amazon was yet to be born.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 10 Oct 2014

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of what most people agree was the first ‘secure’ online purchase: the Sting album Ten Summoner’s Tales for $12.48 (£7.43) plus shipping costs, from US site NetMarket, which still exists (although as with most historical milestones this one’s disputed - computer equipment seller Internet Shopping Network claimed to have got there first. Whatever...).

And in honour of that grand event, what with e-commerce now being the multibillion dollar cash cow that it is, here are 20 things that were going on when that fateful first purchase was made.

1. Wet, Wet, Wet’s Love is All Around was number one (for, like, ever)

2. Britpop was in full swing

3. Pulp Fiction was just about to be released

4. As was Shawshank Redemption

5. And the first episode of Friends

6. Diana and Charles were still married (just)

7. Kate Moss and Johnny Depp were totally a thing

8. John Major was Prime Minister

9. And Tony Blair had just been elected leader of the Labour Party

10. Mandela was finally president of South Africa

11. If you had a mobile phone it probably looked like this

12. The internet was still a ‘strange new world’

13. The Sunday Trading Act was just about to come into force

14. This was fashionable (uncannily similar outfits can be seen on today’s teens)

15. The Chunnel had just opened

16. A very beardy Steve Jobs was on a 12-year hiatus from Apple, after being fired in 1985

17. There were no female FTSE 100 chief execs

Marjorie Scardino wasn’t made boss of Pearson until 1997.

18. Flavr Savr tomatoes became the first genetically-modified crop to go on sale in the US

19.  BMW had just bought Rover

20. And today’s king of e-commerce, Jeff Bezos, founded what is now Amazon



Bezos incorporated what was then called Cadabra in July 1994, and Amazon.com went online the next year.

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