The First E-Commerce Transaction Was a Drug Deal

cannabis-cafe-amsterdam-300x225Wait… what? Yes, you heard me. The first E-commerce transaction ever recorded in history was used for a cannabis transaction between students at Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and students at MIT between 1971 and 1972 according to John Markoff in his book, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry.

In 1971 or 1972, Stanford students using Arpanet accounts at Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory engaged in a commercial transaction with their counterparts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before Amazon, before eBay, the seminal act of e-commerce was a drug deal. The students used the network to quietly arrange the sale of an undetermined amount of marijuana.

If you are like me, you are probably wondering how this was possible since this was way before consumer based E-commerce. Well, it wasn’t consumer based at all. In fact, the transaction occurred over one of the first known packet switching networks, ARPANET, which was originally funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency, later becoming DARPA within the U.S . Department of Defense.

 

 

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