eionmac writes in with a story about the humble beginnings of an industry that is worth over $186.1 billion in the UK alone. "Grandmother Jane Snowball, 72, sat down in an armchair in her Gateshead home in May 1984, picked up a television remote control and used it to order the groceries from her local supermarket. She was part of a council initiative to help the elderly. What she - and everyone else with her at the time - didn't realise was that her simple shopping list was arguably the world's first home online shop. With her remote control she used a piece of computer technology called Videotex. It sent the order down her phone line to the local Tesco - the goods were then packaged and delivered to her door. Mrs Snowball never saw a computer - her television linked her to the shop. 'What we effectively did was to take a domestic TV in a home and turn it into a computer terminal,' says Michael Aldrich, the man behind the technology for the system. 'That was the big leap.'"
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