World’s first internet-connected car goes on sale on eBay

19 Dec 2014

Image of car via eBay/Rob Stevens

Someone with enough change in their pocket can pick up a piece of internet history on eBay after the world’s first internet-connected car has been put up for sale on the site by its creator.

The system developed by in the midst of the dot-com crash was released in 8 December 2000 with the intention of giving business people the ability to check their email on-the-go, and seemingly little else.

While Google and Apple work on getting cars with their own operating systems and 4G internet, Rob Stevens, the system’s creator, was more concerned with a number keypad extracted from a late-1990s computer keyboard that would read out his emails in a heavily digitised voice.

Despite initial interest from the media, unsurprisingly the basic design and cost proved too much for the average consumer and after receiving limited amount of work, the project was scrapped

Right idea, wrong time

And now the car onwed by Stevens, a 1999 Volkswagen Beetle convertible, is looking for a new home.

However, its appeal as a piece of internet history might be tainted by the fact all the original technology – a Fujitsu-Siemens laptop and Nokia phone on the Orange network – “were thrown out many years ago,” according to Stevens.

In his post on eBay, Stevens says that while the company still continues today, the internet-capable car entered the market at the wrong time.

“The project was working in October 2000 but at that time we were experiencing the post dot-com crash and we found it difficult to get the press to pick up the story,” said Stevens.”

“One technology journalist (who still writes for a respected UK newspaper) told me that he would not run the story as, ‘The internet is dead’.”

One news outlet that did pick up the story was the BBC who ran this news item in December 2000.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic