Amazon’s history runs back 23 years to 1994 and is full of interesting tidbits revolving around its inception and founder Jeff Bezos. Many may already know that Amazon originally operated in Bezos garage and that he’s since gone on to pass Bill Gates as the world’s richest man. Below we’ll share, “What was the first item ever sold on Amazon.com” and highlight some other fun facts that are sure to blow your mind.

Amazon was originally a bookstore

From movies to games to music and everything in between, Amazon is the place where you can get just about anything you need. But it wasn’t always that way, as Amazon actually started out as an online bookstore. Their slogan at the time was “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore.” By 1997 Amazon was carrying more than 2.5 million book titles.

The first item sold was a book by author Douglas Hofstadter

Douglas Hofstadter was the first person to sell a book on Amazon with “Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thoughts.” Sounds pretty boring, but not to software engineer John Wainwright. Wainwright has since been tracked down as the purchaser of Amazon’s first book. He bought “Fluid Concepts” for $27.95, and helped kick off what would be one of the most successful e-commerce businesses ever.

One Quora member suggests that Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos didn’t have the book Wainwright wanted at the time. He actually had to visit a brick-and-mortar bookstore to fulfill the purchase. While certainly amusing, this anecdote is currently unconfirmed.

Amazon’s first customer has a building named after him

According to former Amazon employee Kathy Lin, Amazon honored their first customer John Wainwright by naming a building after him on Amazon’s corporate campus. The Wainwright Building features a plaque explaining its name, which you can see below.

wainwright plaque
From a Quora member, Gene Pope,
in response to the post: https://www.quora.com/What-was-the-first-book-ever-ordered-by-a-customer-on-Amazon

Amazon owns a lot of your favorite companies

As of June 2017, Investopedia reported that Amazon has annual revenues of 136 billion. Amazon couldn’t have accomplished without additional revenue from some top performing companies they’ve acquired. These include IMDB, Audible.com, Goodreads, Twitch.tv, and BoxOfficeMojo, among others.

Amazon most recently acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in cash in June of 2017. The purchase was confusing to some. Others saw it as proof that Amazon is slowly taking over the world one step at a time.

Amazon Prime members love crockpots, Roombas and DNA kits

Amazon Prime Day 2017 was the biggest sales day ever for Amazon. Sales grew by 60 percent in comparison to last year’s event. Some of the day’s best selling items like the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, and the Kindle Paperwhite were expected to do big numbers. But Amazon Prime members also went nuts for more unconventional products.

One of Prime Day’s biggest winners was the Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker. The product ranked no. 1 in the kitchen and dining category. Other best-sellers included the TechMatte Universal Car Mount, the iRobot Roomba 652 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, and the 23andMe DNA Test.

Amazon once sold a CD for nearly 3 billion dollars by mistake

The most expensive item ever purchased on Amazon was a Windows 98 Discovery Channel CD-ROM listed at $2,904,980,000. Thankfully for Brian Klug, his record purchase was canceled by Amazon after they were unable to process his order. The best part is that Klug’s multi-billion dollar order came with a $3.99 shipping fee.

cash register

Amazon’s fulfillment center in Phoenix, Arizona can hold 28 football fields

The Arizona fulfillment center is one of Amazon’s largest at 1.2 million square feet. The average Amazon fulfillment center is massive as well, with workers reportedly walking between 7 and 15 miles during their shift. The warehouses are so enormous that some workers spend most of their break just moving from one place to another.

Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos was the richest man in the world for less than a day

On July 27, 2017, many news outlets were quick to report that Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the world after Amazon’s share price topped $1,050. While Bezos did indeed pass Bill Gates, he only held the title for a mere four hours after Amazon’s share price slipped later in the day. Don’t feel bad for Bezos, though. He later reclaimed the title in October when his net worth shot past $90 billion.

So what was the first item ever sold on Amazon.com? Now you know! 

Who would have thought that a book bought by a software engineer would be the start of today’s greatest online commerce platform? These are some of the most interesting (and bizarre) facts we found about Amazon’s history. Next time you want to impress your friends, share your latest trivia about Amazon!

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