Shel Kaphan was the very first person hired by Jeff Bezos to launch Amazon.com. A lot of people consider Shel to be a co-founder in all but name, because he, along with Paul Davis, was largely responsible for the entire technical architecture that Amazon launched with, from the website, to the back-end systems that made selling books on the Internet possible. I was thrilled when Shel agreed to talk to me, because he does not give a lot of interviews, and I knew he could shed some light on some of the earliest Amazon details that absolutely no one else could. Shel gives us the background on everything from the commerce systems to the development of Amazon’s famous review and recommendation systems. This is such a fascinating, detailed look at Amazon’s very beginnings, I think that it reminds me of all the great details we got from Mosaic and Netscape engineering teams we spoke to in the earliest interviews for this project. Enjoy!