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nglish entrepreneur Michael Aldrich was a pioneer of online shopping in 1979. His system connected a modified domestic TV to a real-time transaction processing computer via a domestic telephone line. He believed that videotex, the modified domestic TV technology with a simple menu-driven human–computer interface, was a 'new, universally applicable, participative communication medium â€” the first since the invention of the telephone.' This enabled 'closed' corporate information systems to be opened to 'outside' correspondents not just for transaction processing but also for e-messaging and information retrieval and dissemination, later known as e-business.

His definition of the new mass communications medium as 'participative' [interactive, many-to-many] was fundamentally different from the traditional definitions of mass communication and mass media and a precursor to the social networking on the Internet 25 years later. In March 1980 he launched Redifon's Office Revolution, which allowed consumers, customers, agents, distributors, suppliers and service companies to be connected on-line to the corporate systems and allow business transactions to be completed electronically in real-time.

During the 1980s he designed, manufactured, sold, installed, maintained and supported many online shopping systems, using videotex technology.

These systems which also provided voice response and handprint processing pre-date the Internet and the World Wide Web, the IBM PC, and Microsoft MS-DOS, and were installed mainly in the UK by large corporations.

The first World Wide Web server and browser, created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990, opened for commercial use in 1991.

Thereafter, subsequent technological innovations emerged in 1994: online banking, the opening of an online pizza shop by Pizza Hut, Netscape's SSL v2 encryption standard for secure data transfer, and Intershop's first online shopping system. The first secure retail transaction over the Web was either by NetMarket or Internet Shopping Network in 1994.

Immediately after, Amazon.com launched its online shopping site in 1995 and eBay was also introduced in 1995.

Alibaba's sites Taobao and Tmall were launched in 2003 and 2008, respectively. Retailers are increasingly selling goods and services prior to availability through "pretail" for testing, building, and managing demand.

 

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