In Sep 1995 Pierre Omidyar launched a site called Auction Web, which would evolve to be the eBay we know today. He could not have imagined that his idea would explode into something that is now a household word. Here is the back story on Omidyar and his journey to start eBay
Born in Paris in 1967, Omidyar moved to Baltimore, Maryland, as his physician father accepted a medical residency at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. He had an interest in computers as a teenager, preferring playing on the high school's computers to attending PE class. The principal of the school saw Omidyar's potential and, rather than punishing him for skipping gym class, hired him to handle programming and printing library catalog cards for $6 an hour.
Omidyar continued on the path to attend Tufts University and pursue a bachelor's degree. While studying there, he developed a program for Apple Macintosh for memory management. By 1991, Omidyar and three other students created a company to develop programs for pen-computing. He was wise enough to create a rudimentary e-commerce platform he named eShop. Pen-computing didn't take off, but the concept for e-commerce caught Microsoft's attention and they bought the company from Omidyar.
Omidyar moved on to designing web pages. His girlfriend, who later became his wife, was a Pez dispenser enthusiast and collector. She was frustrated with the internet and her search to find other Pez collectors. In an effort to help his girlfriend, Omidyar created an area on his website for her to reach out to other Pez collectors and network with other like-minded people in the collector space.
eBay, or as it was first known, Electronic Bay, began on Labor Day 1995. It was quite rudimentary by today's standards—with no guarantees, no fees, no third-party interaction to moderate disputes, and no payment platform. Omidyar and his girlfriend were shocked to see that a variety of collectibles, used items, and random stuff began appearing on the site. Within five months, eBay outgrew Omidyar's personal account and had to be moved to a business platform. Members were charged a small fee to list on the site.
eBay continued to grow by leaps and bounds and Omidyar actually told the New York Times in an interview that "so many checks were piling up at my door that I had to hire help to open them all."