... and the packing slip that came with it
One of the benefits of being an early adopter -- to new technologies, to new services -- is that even your most mundane actions have the chance to go down in history. Mark Zuckerberg's being "a little intoxicated" on a Tuesday night in his dorm room is now the stuff of legend. Jack Dorsey, announcing that he's in art class and "drawing naked people" through his new service Twttr, has, bizarrely, the air of the epic. Even the people who don't become famous for their contributions -- the early users, the first customers -- take their own place in innovation's lore.
John Wainwright is one of those people. Wainwright is famous in his own right as a computer scientist -- a pioneer of object-based computer languages, he was the principal architect of both ScriptX and MaxScript -- but he is now almost as legendary for a simple series of clicks he made in 1995. On April 3 of that year, Wainwright was at work at Kaleida Labs, one of the early Web's joint ventures between Apple/IBM. He'd been given a beta invite to a fledgling company -- a company that was trying to make a go of selling books over a fledgling Internet. And he found himself in want of some reading material. So he ordered a book -- "over," he recalls, "a T-1 connection."
The book he ordered was Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought. And the service he used to order it was Amazon.