How Amazon Honored Its First Customer

John Wainwright bought a book and had a building named after him
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2015 7:09 PM CDT
Updated Apr 26, 2015 7:00 AM CDT
This file photo shows boxes in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(Newser) – If you were quick on the draw 20 years ago, you might have had a building named after you by Amazon. Instead, as MarketWatch reports, that honor goes to a software engineer named John Wainwright. On April 3, 1995, Wainwright became the fledgling company's first paying customer when he ordered a book titled Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought by Douglas Hofstadter. It cost $27.95, and for that, Wainwright did indeed have an Amazon building named after him.

In an interview with Quentin Fottrell, Wainwright explains that a friend of his at Kaleida Labs left Kaleida to go work for the then-startup "He sent me an email and said, 'Create an account and order some books.' I thought I was going to get some free books out of it. But they took my credit card and charged it!" For the record, the book deals with artificial intelligence. Click for the full interview.

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