A Brief History of Online Reviews

I was recently asked if we know when the very first online review was posted. Although I don’t have a specific date, the earliest user-generated consumer reviews probably appeared online sometime in the mid- 1990s.

Let me elaborate a bit on that.

Of the 5 review sites that I have studied, Amazon is the oldest.   As a business Amazon was launched in 1994, and according to the company’s description, consumer reviews have been an important part of the site since its earliest days.  Other review sites, like Epinions, have also been around since the mid-to-late 1990s. However, as more of a widespread phenomenon, user-generated review content really started taking off in the era of “Web 2.0,” in the early 2000s.  And by the mid-2000s, review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, had become massive businesses as well as global phenomena.

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