When Amazon.com opened its virtual doors on July 16, 1995, it was just one among several online booksellers. As Amazon embraced the technology to categorize and display millions of books in one space, people embraced the ability to search for and purchase books in a new way. The experience of building a successful business based on an open system like the Web has influenced Amazon throughout its history.
Amazon has consistently pushed the technology envelope in their quest to provide a satisfying, personalized experience for their customers. What started as a human-edited list of product recommendations has morphed into a sophisticated computer-generated recommendation engine that tailors product choices for tens of millions of individuals by analyzing their purchase history and the patterns of other Amazon customers. As the Web evolved into a two-way space for discussion and community, Amazon developed features that let anyone post information and advice about products. They embraced the marketing power of other web sites by giving site owners a portion of sales they sent to Amazon. They opened their billing system and catalog to third parties and turned their web site into a marketplace, connecting buyers and sellers.
With this history of opening their technology to others, it shouldn't have been a surprise when on July 16, 2002, Amazon released a free Web Services interface that gave developers programmatic access to Amazon's vast collection of product and customer data. With this interface, Amazon combined their core features of recommendations, affiliate marketing, and marketplace commerce into a single technology platform that can be used to build applications and businesses.