Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Everybody's eBaying. Here's how.

Once you begin to move beyond basic background information, you begin to realize that there's more to ebay than you may have first thought.

eBay was created in September 1995, by a man called Pierre Omidyar, who was living in San Jose. He wanted his site - then called 'AuctionWeb' - to be an online marketplace, and wrote the first code for it in one weekend. It was one of the first websites of its kind in the world. The name 'eBay' comes from the domain Omidyar used for his site. His company's name was Echo Bay, and the 'eBay AuctionWeb' was originally just one part of Echo Bay's website at The first thing ever sold on the site was Omidyar's broken laser pointer, which he got $14 for.

The site quickly became massively popular, as sellers came to list all sorts of odd things and buyers actually bought them. Relying on trust seemed to work remarkably well, and meant that the site could almost be left alone to run itself. The site had been designed from the start to collect a small fee on each sale, and it was this money that Omidyar used to pay for AuctionWeb's expansion. The fees quickly added up to more than his current salary, and so he decided to quit his job and work on the site full-time. It was at this point, in 1996, that he added the feedback facilities, to let buyers and sellers rate each other and make buying and selling safer.

In 1997, Omidyar changed AuctionWeb's - and his company's - name to 'eBay', which is what people had been calling the site for a long time. He began to spend a lot of money on advertising, and had the eBay logo designed. It was in this year that the one-millionth item was sold (it was a toy version of Big Bird from Sesame Street).

Then, in 1998 - the peak of the dotcom boom - eBay became big business, and the investment in Internet businesses at the time allowed it to bring in senior managers and business strategists, who took it public on the stock market. It started to encourage people to sell more than just collectibles, and quickly became a massive site where you could sell anything, large or small. Unlike other sites, though, eBay survived the end of the boom, and is still going strong today.

1999 saw eBay go worldwide, launching sites in the UK, Australia and Germany. eBay bought, an Amazon-like online retailer, in the year 2000 - the same year it introduced "Buy it Now" - and bought PayPal, an online payment service, in 2002.

Pierre Omidyar has now earned an estimated $3 billion from eBay, and still serves as Chairman of the Board. Oddly enough, he keeps a personal weblog at There are now literally millions of items bought and sold every day on eBay, all over the world. For every $100 spent online worldwide, it is estimated that $14 is spent on eBay - that's a lot of laser pointers.

Now that you know the history of eBay, perhaps you'd like to know how it could work for you?

eBay for the Blind

If you haven't explored the wonderful world of eBay - the online hot spot for buying and selling collectables and other items-you should really check it out. And if you're feeling like you need a "how to eBay" course, I've got one for you. There's a great article titled "Buy It, Sell It: eBay 101" in AccessWorld. It walks you through everything from signing up to buying, listing, and selling, and it's really easy to follow. eBay isn't 100 percent screen reader friendly, but it's still possible to use, so try it out and let me know what you think.

Contributor: Carl Augusto
American Foundation for the Blind's Blog:

Blindness Auction Gateway

Once you've read the article from AFB, navigate to the Blindness Auction Gateway. Use this page to search for all sorts of blindness and low-vision items on Ebay. Just select a link to perform a realtime search for that item.

Click this link to start your search at the Blindness Auction Gateway.

Free eBay Fee Calculator

Want to figure out how much eBay charges for listing your item? Check out FreeEbayFeeCalculator. Here you can quickly find out how much you need to pay in order to list your item on eBay. Simply choose the eBay site where you plan to list the item, specify listing details and hit calculate.

Fee Calculator includes both basic and advanced fee calcs. While basic one covers all generic auctions the advanced one can also handle Dutch, Fixed Price, Stores, and Real Estate listings.

Click this link to check out the eBay calculator:

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