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What Was the First Item Sold on eBay?

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 16, 2024
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Today, you can buy and sell literally anything on eBay, from cars and antiques to clothes and electronics, and everything in between. But back in the mid-1990s, eBay was just getting started, and founder Pierre Omidyar wasn't sure his idea would take off.

Originally known as "AuctionWeb," the online auction website was launched in September 1995 from a spare room in Omidyar's Silicon Valley townhouse. It was the first site to facilitate direct person-to-person auctions. To test his creation, Omidyar listed a $30 laser pointer that he had purchased a few weeks earlier but had stopped working. Amazingly, even though he admitted that it was broken, a bidding war soon began, pushing up the $1 starting price to $14.83. The lucky buyer was Mark Fraser, who figured he would save money by purchasing and fixing the broken gadget rather than buying a new one. He still owns the laser pointer more than two decades later.

List it on eBay:

  • eBay acquired PayPal in 2002, which massively boosted the success of both ventures.

  • Today, eBay is valued at $11.3 billion, with 183 million buyers and 1.6 billion listings.

  • In the United States, a car or truck is purchased on eBay every three minutes.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman , Writer and editor
Margaret Lipman is an experienced writer and educator who produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.

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Margaret Lipman

Margaret Lipman

Writer and editor

Margaret Lipman is an experienced writer and educator who produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide...
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