eBay turns 20

eBay turns 20

Since its founding in September 1995, eBay, the world’s cyber-flea market, has grown to 157 million active users. Here are some little-known nuggets from its illustrious two-decade history…

1) eBay is very export friendly

81 per cent of the small UK businesses which operate via eBay.co.uk sell to at least four countries. The key markets British businesses trade with include Ireland, the United States, France and Germany.

Export button keyboard Ebay

2) Humble beginnings

The first item ever to be sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer that the site’s founder Pierre Omidyar put up for auction as an experiment. On this side of the pond, the first item sold on eBay.co.uk was a CD by German soft-rock band, The Scorpions! It changed hands for the princely sum of £2.89.

Laser pointer Ebay

3) British success stories

The first Briton to make £1m from eBay sales was Mark Radcliffe, a former Tesco shelf-stacker who used the site to launch his business First2Save – a mobile phone and accessories vendor – in 1999. Shortly after came Anthony Ponsford’s Piranha Trading, which he described personally as “an online version of Trotter’s Independent Traders”. Then there was mother-of-three Alison Abruneiras’ Nail and Beauty Emporium which now trades with buyers all over the world.

Mobile Phones Ebay

4) The weird and the wonderful

Needless to say, some strange items have changed hands via the site… These include a brussels sprout (which raised £1,500 for cancer research), the original 1923 Hollywoodland sign, which sold for $450,400 (£288,000), the window through which Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK ($3m) and – the most expensive item ever – the $168m yacht purchased in 2006 by Chelsea FC owner Roman AbramovichHollywood sign Ebay

5) To infinity…

Nasa have used eBay to acquire obsolete computer chips and floppy disk drives. They claim these are essential in keeping the space shuttle support hardware working! So if you’ve ever sold any spare computer parts, they could be in use high above the stratosphere right now…Nasa Astronaut Ebay



Read more on the online marketplace:

Disruptive innovation

How the founders of Notonthehighstreet.com revolutionised shopping



About author

Nick Scott

Nick Scott

A former editor-in-chief of The Rake and deputy editor of the Australian edition of GQ, Nick has had features published in titles including Esquire, The Guardian, Observer Sport Monthly and Rolling Stone Australia and is a contributing editor to Director magazine. He has interviewed celebrities including Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig and Elle Macpherson, as well as business people including Sir Richard Branson, Charles Middleton and Nick Giles and Michael Hayman MBE.

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