On July sixteenth, nineteen ninety-five, a new book store opened in the American city of Seattle. No one steps inside to buy anything. Yet the store, if you could call it that, had sales last year of seven thousand million dollars.

Ten years ago, few people bought things over the Internet. Few thought it was safe. Amazon-dot-com changed many people's minds.

Ten years later, an estimated seven out of ten American adults have used a computer to buy something. Market researchers at comScore Networks estimate online spending last year at one hundred seventeen thousand million dollars. That was for goods and travel services.

The person who started Amazon, Jeffrey Bezos, remains its leader. In the nineteen nineties he urged employees to help Amazon "get big fast." Yet Amazon invested in many similar businesses that failed.

Amazon lost plenty of money. It did not make a profit until two thousand three. Its most recent profit and earnings report, released last week, was better than many market watchers had expected.

Today people can buy not just books and music but also many other products through Amazon. It competes with eBay, which celebrates its tenth birthday in September.

EBay calls itself "the world's online marketplace." It does not sell anything. Instead, it provides a way for others to sell goods and services. People who want to buy something make competing offers through online auctions. EBay has grown to include several other businesses. These include PayPal, a company that processes online payments.

As online sellers grew, traditional stores saw the future. Today, stores from the smallest to the biggest sell on the Internet. These include the biggest of all, Wal-Mart.