A few Microsoft folks have blogged about their first ever Amazon.com orders and that got me curious about my first order. I had no idea that the "My Account" page had an archive of orders going back that far, so I went to check it out. On the "My Account" page, simply change the "View by Order" dropdown list to "Complete order history sorted by year" and click the Go button. The resulting page has the most recent orders on it, but another dropdown list will contain an item for each year going back to your first.
Turns out that I've been an Amazon.com customer for nearly 10 years! On February 24, 1997, I ordered the first volume of "Pattern Languages of Program Design", by Coplien and Schmidt (act now, only 2 in stock!). I later purchased other volumes, though not all five that are listed for sale on the site.
Looks like my largest order was in early 2001, when I often used Amazon.com to purchase software tools and books for the team I was managing at the time. An order containing multiple JBuilder 5.0 upgrades was $4,225 (!). For a time in 2000 and 2001, I was purchasing a lot of things for the office through Amazon.com. They had great prices, quick shipping, and it was more convenient than the PO-based system we had previously used for many things.
It also surprised me how many books (mostly Java and process related) were purchased for the team around that time. It looks like we got just about every Java book published for a while there... I still think well-written development books are a cost-effective learning tool -- provided that you're able to learn from a book format. Many people aren't... and need a lecture or "show me" approach to learning.
It's been a while since I purchased a tech book, though, as I think O'Reilly's Safari service is a great value for us book-learner types. Their new "Library" offering gives you nearly unrestricted, electronic access to a ton of books. They also include a lot of books from non O'Reilly publishers, including Addison-Wesley which publishes some great .NET books. If you absolutely need paper from time to time, the service includes "download tokens" that let you get chapters in PDF format for printing and offline viewing.
That hasn't completely curtailed our use of Amazon.com, though. We became members of their "Prime" program late last year, which gives you free 2-day shipping and cheap overnight shipping for about $80/year. If you have lots of family/friends that live in other parts of the country and use Amazon.com a lot, it's a great value. It paid for itself pretty quickly over the holidays. And with free 2-day shipping, it means that Amazon is the first place we go now for many household things we need. No shipping fees, no tax, decent prices.
The only downside I've found with Amazon Prime is that not every item is "eligible" for Prime. Many of the items on the site are actually sold and shipped by 3rd-party vendors... but only items where Amazon.com is the seller are eligible. And while each product page tells you whether or not the item is eligible, it'd be great if they provided an option to search only eligible products. Maybe it's there and I just haven't found it... but overall, we're still happy with the service.