Profile America: Online Shopping 

Saturday, July 16 — On this date in 1995, a small start-up company launched its business of selling books online out of a two-car garage in Bellevue, Washington. The first item purchased was a book titled “Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.”  The 1995 garage operation was The company now has some 230,000 employees and around 90 warehouses to store and ship the annual two-billion purchases of books and much else. Amazon went public in 1997, and currently its market capitalization puts it among America’s largest companies. Not all of America’s 26,000 electronic shopping ventures do so well, but last year internet sales totaled nearly $342 billion, or over 7 percent of all retail sales. 

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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