In 2004, the Amazon team had a vision – to improve upon the physical book, making it easier than ever for customers to discover and enjoy books. Gregg Zehr, vice president of hardware engineering at Palm Computing at the time, was part of the team that accepted the challenge. In October 2004, Gregg formed a small team, moved into a shared space in a Palo Alto law library, and got to work as Lab126.
The Lab126 name originated from the arrow in the Amazon logo, which draws a line from A to Z in “Amazon.” In Lab126, the 1 stands for “A” and the “26” stands for “Z.” The subsidiary functions as an Amazon lab of innovation, research, and development for consumer electronics products.
The very small team of engineers functioned in a Silicon Valley skunkworks environment. The team did not know their chances of success, but they kept working and growing. After office moves in 2005 and 2006, Amazon Lab126 moved to Cupertino City Center in February 2007.
On November 19, after 3 years of research and development, the first Kindle e-reader launched with 90,000 e-books. The Lab126 team watched a live broadcast of the announcement from New York, holding their breaths as Jeff Bezos introduced Kindle. 5.5 hours later, Kindle was sold out.
The team has expanded rapidly since then, producing a variety of innovative products from Kindle Keyboard, Kindle Touch and Kindle Paperwhite e-readers to Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon Lab126 has a new office in Sunnyvale, California, and the team works on projects with the same spirit that fueled the first inventors.
We've come a long way, but it's still day one.