Amazon, the all-conquering if lightly taxed online retailer, is celebrating its 25th birthday this month.
According to a report from The Independent, the company was founded as "Cadabra" in Bellevue, Washington, by entrepreneur Jeff Bezos on 5 July 1994, initialing selling only books before branching out gradually into almost every other facet of commerce, shifting electronics, homeware, and clothes, entering the streaming market with Prime Video and changing the high street forever.
A quarter of a century later, with the company well established among the big four tech giants and its founder now richer than Croesus, it is fascinating to revisit the first ever job advert Bezos posted on Usenet, an early web message board, in August 1994.
Here's what he wrote:
"Well-capitalized start-up seeks extremely talented C/C++/Unix developers to help pioneer commerce on the Internet. You must have experience designing and building large and complex (yet maintainable) systems, and you should be able to do so in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible. You should have a BS, MS, or PhD in Computer Science or the equivalent. Top-notch communication skills are essential. Familiarity with web servers and HTML would be helpful but is not necessary. Expect talented, motivated, intense, and interesting co-workers. Must be willing to relocate to the Seattle area (we will help cover moving costs)."
Imagine having gotten in on the ground floor with that one - Jeff would even have paid your moving expenses!
The demand that you design and build interfaces "in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible" is telling, speaking to the fledgling company's huge ambition even then.
After giving an email, postal address and fax number, the ad closes with a quote from Alan Kay, a computer scientist who would go on to win the Alan Turing Award in 2003, declaring:
"It's easier to invent the future than to predict it."
Bezos has certainly demonstrated that to be true.
Soon after posting this, Bezos hired Shel Kaphan to take responsibility for developing the site's infrastructure and the company's explosive growth began in earnest.