From The Archives: 1984, The Year Of Online Shopping?

In 1984, shopping online wasn't this easy. i i

hide captionIn 1984, shopping online wasn't this easy.

Guy Erwood/iStockphoto
In 1984, shopping online wasn't this easy.

In 1984, shopping online wasn't this easy.

Guy Erwood/iStockphoto

Amazon.com was founded in 1994.

A decade earlier, in 1984, only 8.2 percent of households in the United States had computers, according to the U.S. Census.

But there were limited ways to shop via a computer in 1984. And Robert Krulwich, who was then NPR's business correspondent, decided he wanted to try it.

You can listen to Krulwich navigating the online shopping world of 1984 — it involved a telephone, a TV, a typewriter keyboard and an additional monthly fee. The best quote from the interview comes from an analyst, who predicted it would be five to 10 years before online shopping became ubiquitous.

"There's no technological reason why today you couldn't have books in print — online — in your home," the analyst says.

Was Jeff Bezos listening?

(We found this piece as part of a new Tumblr we've launched to look deeply at NPR's archives. Called NPRchives, the site highlights a piece each day from 1984. Every day, we'll post one story from the archives — along with as many transcripts as possible. We're also going to be posting video, photos and anything else we can get our hands on. We'll try to interview the people from the stories or the people who made them — depending on what we can dig up.)

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: