This is embarrassing! I just learned that a vital bit of Internet history happened in Nashua in 1994, when I was a reporter at the city’s newspaper who was writing about the online world, yet I’ve never heard of it before.

According to a 1994 article in the New York Times – stuck at the bottom of page D1, which shows how vital it was deemed to be – a CD that was bought online via a firm called NetMarket was the first secured online credit-card retail purchase. It was secured by PGP, an early and still perhaps the most famous encryption program.

The company was formed by a bunch of young software types, including Dan Kohn, a Phillips Exeter graduate, and for some reason were operating out of a “two-story frame house in Nashua” at the time of the sale. The firm doesn’t seem to have any other New Hampshire connection – they certainly made no noise at the time, that I heard of anyway – so perhaps this was somebody’s mom’s basement or the equivalent, temporary housing until financing kicked in.

I learned about this via this article in Supply Chain Digital.

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