PART 1: HOW IT FEELS AT THIS MOMENT

This section chronicles changes that could happen only now, at this moment in history.

"In 1997, Howley started hearing about a new Web site called eBay. ... On a lark he searched for a THRUSH rifle, a mid-1960s toy version of the weapon of choice for the villains in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ... [It] was a prize he had searched for his whole adult life. ... But just two minutes on this electronic flea market and there it was -- where anyone, anywhere could find it. It was at that moment that Howley became very, very afraid. How could his little specialty stores in the backwater of central Massachusetts compete with a giant, wonderfully stocked rival like that -- one that was everywhere a laptop could be, virtually in the air around him?"

From "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and (Almost) Love eBay," which examines one entrepreneur's reluctant acceptance of life after the on-line auction.

Published on: May 15, 2000