Amazon's First Customer Still Loyal After All These Years

John Wainwright with his first Amazon purchase.
July 5, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

With what could have been a mundane click of his mouse, John Wainwright made history in 1995 when he became the first non-company customer to place an order on Amazon.

Wainwright — a decorated computer scientist in his own right — purchased a book titled "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought" by Douglas Hofstadter, which is still available on the site.

"The website — as you might expect back in the 1990s — was fairly crude … But to my recollection it was quite similar to what you do now," said Wainwright, now the chief technology officer of Kollective, during an interview with Cheddar on Friday.

Today, as Amazon ($AMZN) celebrates its 25th birthday, Wainwright still has the book and its packing slip with the company's original logo. He chose the book during a period of "passing interest in AI" at the invitation of a friend who was an early engineer at the Seattle-based company.

Amazon first started as a platform for ordering books online and has since grown into an e-commerce behemoth that dominates various markets of the economy ranging from entertainment to healthcare.

Wainwright — whose current Amazon account goes all the way back to his first purchase in 1995 — can also be considered one of the company's most loyal customers.

"It has been 25 years now and I have a fairly strong sense of confidence in Amazon," he said, adding that "half of the things I buy, I probably buy on Amazon at the moment."

Jeff Bezos founded the company on July 5, 1994, and Wainright made his momentous purchase nine months later.