I had an interesting hallway conversation with a co-worker other day about how something in Amazon’s systems just don’t work for us.

“Why didn’t they make it in a way that could be extended to our use case?” This was about ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Number) and how they work. I wouldn’t be writing about how the inner workings of Amazon work except for the fact that it’s well documented on Wikipedia.

I stared at the wall for a moment… then it occurred to me that the concept of “ASIN” is very, very old as far as Amazon is concerned. My best guess without doing the research on it is that it goes back around 20 years give or take five.

The fact that the concept has served us that well for so long is testament to how well things really were thought out back then. Most systems only wind up lasting a few years in a company like Amazon; concepts can last longer, but even those are discarded as better ideas come to the fore.

You have to think were things came from and the history of what and where ideas came from… very few people set out to make bad ideas spread. But some ideas that might, right now, seem not the best… the fact that they’ve been along for so long without being replaced still speaks volumes.