Love at First Byte

I will always remember my first home computer.  It was an AST; an acronym for the company’s three founders Albert, Safi and Thomas who were one of the first to enter the PC market. The year was 1995.

As soon as we picked it up from the store, I dove into the box, removing hardware and cables and began plugging B into C, A into D, D into E which resulted in unplugging B from C, D from E etc. There was a learning curve.

Undoubtably, however, when I inserted the CD labeled “The AST Experience” into the drive and it began to share an encyclopedic slideshow of random historic events complete with cutting-edge graphics and sound, it thrilled me to my core. As a communications and mass media major, I was excited for this groundbreaking opportunity to connect and communicate with the world, or at least the World Wide Web. It’s like I had just stepped into the Technicolor world of the Wizard of Oz where it went from the sepia tone to full-on color 19 minutes into the film. There would be no looking back. Ever.

The first step was to insert an AOL disc into the drive and create an account where I could read up-to-date news, play a game and most importantly, send emails, photos or documents out into cyberspace. The final frontier. Of course, Microsoft’s program Word would become integral in my life shortly thereafter. It helped me land my first series of free-lance assignments with a local newspaper.

And I continued to be pro-technology as I used EBay to sell Beanie Babies (my furthest shipping address was from Chicago to Japan), bought too many books on Amazon (when books were their only product!) and I loved searching for information through Ask Jeeves; one of the first search engines. (It re-branded as Ask.com in 2005.)

Photo Credit: NBC News

In 2007, after watching Tory Johnson on Good Morning America do a segment on the growing industry of work-from-home jobs, I researched the niche, submitted my resumes and was hired by Legacy.com.

For me, the internet and computer processing equaled magic and I’ve taken advantage of so much of what it’s historically had to offer. But I have been a hold-out for 17 years on a particular service which one would think I’d have joined immediately: Amazon Prime.

 First, here’s a bit of Amazon’s back story. In the first month of Amazon’s launch in 1994, they had already managed to sell books to customers in all 50 states and in 45 different countries. Talk about reading a market. It only exploded in growth from there.  

Jeff Bezos liked two names to launch his dream. The first was “Cadabra” (I can appreciate the magic reference) but he was talked out of it. He also liked the name “Relentless.” In fact, if you visit Relentless.com, it actually navigates to Amazon.

In 2005, they launched Amazon Prime for an annual fee of $79.00. This would give the buyer unlimited two-day shipping. They dubbed it “all-you-can-eat express shipping.”

Next, Prime expanded to include unlimited, commercial-free instant streaming of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows in 2011.  In 2014, they raised their annual subscription price to $99.00 where it stayed until it went up again to $119.00 in 2018.

I watched all this from the sidelines. They still offered free shipping with either a $25.00 or $35.00 purchase minimum, so why would I pay to get it maybe 2-3 days sooner? (I practically feel myself yelling “hey, get off of my lawn.”) If I really needed something fast, I would pay the $4.99 or $5.99 shipping cost. Plus, we had a streaming subscription with the behemoth Netflix, so that particular carrot didn’t interest me.

And speaking of carrots, Amazon purchased the grocery giant Whole Foods in 2017. A Prime membership would give subscribers discounts on certain food items. There was a standing joke among many that Whole Foods nickname was “Whole Paycheck” since that’s what it would cost to shop there; a discount which still didn’t lure me into the Prime fold.   

What would it take to get me to sign up? Oddly enough, a birthday.

My husband and I were watching the NFL championship game, when an ad appeared for Amazon Prime. He started to fast-forward though it, then stopped and rewound. They were advertising a new streaming show. Reacher.

Many readers will recognize the name either from the popular Lee Child books or the two Reacher movies starring Tom Cruise (which Reacher fans always thought was a questionable casting choice for this 6’5” drifter, but I digress.) Since I had very few leads on gift ideas and I knew he was a Reacher fan, it took nanoseconds to put Reacher and birthday together. Prime would be his present.

I get it. In the long run, that is one expensive birthday present. But it won’t clutter the house with another gadget, or be a new sweater that hangs in his closet. Plus, I get to be part of it too through Amazon Household. After 17 years of holding out, I think we’ve saved enough to indulge. We happily watched the first Reacher episode that night (ironically, it’s just o.k. so far.)

Bezos gets the last laugh though. Literally on the exact same day that I ordered Prime, they announced a price increase from $119.00/yr to $139.00. Ouch.

They say it’s because of rising costs related to wages and transportation. They do have an enormous fleet of their own delivery vans now canvassing business and residential districts everywhere. Plus, I’m seeing television ads about Amazon employees getting better healthcare.  That is probably part of the equation too.

Photo Credit Car and Driver

In case, you’re wondering, they have 150 million subscribers in the U.S., and now it’s 150 million plus one. I’m still going to hold out on one feature though. Alexa and voice shopping. She concerns me. To paraphrase Meatloaf, I would do anything with Prime, but I won’t do that…well, probably not.


10 thoughts on “Love at First Byte

  1. Melanie, this is a unique take on today’s “Valentine” theme of love. Early on, your ability to know which letter of the alphabet to plug into which port amazes me. I was a late (very late) adopter of things digital, and relied on the college to help get me up to snuff with computer use. I do remember that the first computers were heavy with monitors very “deep” in size.

    You mentioned Lee Child and Jack Reacher, so I can’t resist sharing this tidbit here. I heard Lee Child present at a Book Fair in Fernandina Beach, FL, and he revealed the origin of the name Reacher for his principal character. As the story goes, while shopping with his wife for groceries, she asked him to REACH for something on a top shelf. He had been stymied as to what to name Jack–thus, the name “Reacher.”

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE your inside scoop Marian on how Reacher got his name! Thank you, that is awesome. I’ve already shared it with my husband who literally laughed out loud when he heard it. 🙂 You never know when inspiration is going to hit! And it was really only a coincidence about posting on Valentine’s Day – the aforementioned birthday kept me busy that week. Happy Valentine’s Day to you as well! ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha! I laughed throughout your post, Melanie. First, I’m always the guy who falls in line last with the rest of the world. Different things come along that I either avoid intentionally or my cheapskate nature comes to the surface saying, “Why do I need this?” Most of the time, I’m so oblivious I don’t even know they exist. Usually, I sign off on something when my wife convinces me we should get it. Facebook? I came around a decade too late. Netflix? We’ve had it for a long time, but I never used it much until the last year when I started watching old TV series that everyone used to rave about. My wife and son were forever talking about new series on Netflix that I had never heard of. I’d describe myself as more of a dinosaur than a curmudgeon.

    It is funny what becomes the tipping point when we decide to join the rest of the world. We’ve had Amazon Prime for a couple of years, and we’re doing our part to make Jeff Bezos richer.🤣 Isn’t that what life is all about?🤣 This past year, I’ve bought more books than I can possibly read for my Kindle. (Another thing I’m a decade or more behind most people.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is my goal to make Jeff Bezos richer! 😂😂😂 Now he can take more people into space for 10 minutes! Too funny. And I don’t really want to admit this, but I still don’t have a Kindle. Yikes! Those are dangerous words as I read so many blogs of published authors. At first, it had to do with preferring holding a book, but last year I learned how to use the Libby app on my regular tablet and have read maybe 30 books that way. I suspect a Kindle isn’t too far in my future as it makes it easy to buy the authors I meet on WP. I’m glad I started your week off with a good laugh Pete! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMGosh…!!!! You got us all thinking back to when we all first “ventured” onto the information super-highway! I remember being pregnant back in ’92 and my 3 year old niece showing me how to use the mouse. Her little hand on top of mine telling me ” don’t worry Auntie Pam-it’s hard at first”! It sounds like you and my sister and her family had the same “instant” love affair with computers when they first came out. My niece now is an artist that uses every program imaganable to do her incredible work. For a communications/media major you must have thought you died and went to heaven! I too struggle with the enormity of Bezos and his empire-but not enough to cancel that order I just made that will deliver that little tool thingy my husband needs to tighten the freezer door handle! (and it will be delivered tomorrow)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, you started early in 1992; what a great story about your niece leading the way! So sweet. And thanks Pam for the laugh about the “tool thingy” you need. This is EXACTLY why Bezos has been so successful. Convenience. 🙂

      Like

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