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01 September 2021 • Resources

How Michael Aldrich created online shopping: the origins of ecommerce

How Michael Aldrich created online shopping: the origins of ecommerce

Thinking of launching your own online retail business to sell your products to customers? 

Wanting to get involved in the world of ecommerce is definitely understandable. Despite economic uncertainty worldwide, online shopping is still immensely popular. 

According to Statista, global retail ecommerce sales were $4.28 trillion (USD) in 2020 and are expected to reach $5.4 trillion (USD) in 2022. 

Success in ecommerce isn’t guaranteed, though. There are, after all, any number of reasons why even well-prepared entrepreneurs may find that their online store isn’t selling.

Nevertheless, to many merchants, the potential benefits of creating an online store far outweigh the risks. It doesn’t seem that ecommerce will be disappearing anytime soon, which is good news for shoppers and aspiring online retailers alike! 

Customers all around the globe enjoy taking advantage of online shopping and everything it has to offer. It’s easy to see why: with a few clicks of the mouse, you can buy almost any product or service that you could possibly dream of! 

Online shopping does much more than just make customers’ lives easier. It also lets them save money on different products by being able to look around for the best deal possible. 

They can explore a wide range of online stores and products in a relatively short amount of time, all from the comfort of home. 

Even if their favorite store has a physical location that they can visit, they might not be able to find exactly what they’re trying to buy. When they make purchases online, they often have access to products that you might not otherwise encounter. 

Though we tend to take buying products on the internet for granted now, it’s interesting to consider how we got to where we are today. This article explores the creator of online shopping, Michael Aldrich, and how ecommerce got its start.

How online shopping began

Though building an ecommerce website from scratch today is a breeze with WiziShop, there was a time when online stores weren’t around at all. It wasn’t until 1979 that inventor and entrepreneur Michael Aldrich invented online shopping in the UK. 

While working at the Board of Redifon, Aldrich connected a modified domestic television using a telephone line to a real-time multi-user transaction processing computer. This method enabled online transactions between consumers and businesses or between two businesses. 

The action is what we now know as “ecommerce” today. It also allowed for messaging and the retrieval and dissemination of information to further aid online commerce.

From 1980, he marketed his new system and sold mostly business-to-business systems. However, business-to-consumer internet purchasing was not feasible until use of the internet and personal computers grew in the 1990s.

Aldrich’s idea for using information technology (IT) for mass communications helped create the modern IT industry. It was also the antecedent to the concept of social networks on the internet.

Who was Michael Aldrich?

Born on August 22, 1941 in Welwyn Garden City in England, Aldrich became interested in computers and technology from a young age. He attended school at London’s Clapham College. Aldrich devoted a significant amount of time and attention to his studies, and his efforts later earned him a scholarship to the University of Hull.

At the University of Hull, he studied history. He met and eventually became engaged to Sandy Kay Hutchings. They got married in 1962 and went on to have four children. 

Aldrich’s professional life

After graduating, Aldrich worked in the UK with Honeywell and Burroughs for 15 years. He spent time in numerous sales and marketing roles and later joined the Board of Redifon in 1977.

He was an innovator when it came to thinking of new and better ways to market products and services to the public. In addition, he was always examining sales data, aiming to develop improved solutions that offered even better results.

After inventing online shopping in 1979, Aldrich forever changed the way people shop. His system allowed internal networks to communicate with the outside world in ways that connected people more than they once thought possible. However, Aldrich was also involved in a variety of high-profile projects throughout his varied career.

Aldrich’s other prominent IT projects

Between 1978 to 1998, Aldrich and his team worked on several important projects, most of which involved an extensive amount of time and effort. Due to the dedication of Aldrich and his team, a large number of these ventures were successful. 

One of their activities included a system that read timesheets for the nationalized railroad company British Rail. Aldrich and his team were able to create a system for British Rail that read hand-printed timesheets automatically for more than 100,000 workers. This enabled the business to streamline their weekly payroll process and increase efficiency.

Aldrich completed one of his most noteworthy projects when he worked with Gazprom. He networked several computers and terminals for the business and provided support for their Siberian Gas Pipeline. Despite the project featuring all kinds of difficulties, it was eventually finished and was, during this period, the USSR’s most advanced IT system. 

Aldrich earned a reputation for his commitment to each of his ventures. This caused many companies to want to enlist his help with their technology projects.


Though Aldrich passed away in 2014, he will forever be remembered as the “father” of online shopping. Because of his work, customers around the world get to enjoy ecommerce and visit their favorite stores online. 

If you’re considering starting your own ecommerce business, keep in mind that choosing the right platform for your website is crucial. You’ll want to be sure that you pick a high-quality, professional solution like WiziShop to make managing your ecommerce site super simple!

Signing up with the English version of WiziShop to build your online store will be possible in just a few months, so be sure to visit our homepage and provide your email address to sign up for early access and email updates!

You’ll soon be able to start making sales with your new venture, turning your own ecommerce business dreams into reality!

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