The first ever in-app purchase?

Amelia Baer
  • Amelia Baer
  • November 6, 2012
The first ever in-app purchase?

What do an app found in Apple’s App Store and an old-school arcade game like “Super Off Road” (circa 1989) have in common? At first glance, very little. Delve a little deeper though, and you’ll find a first-of-its-kind feature in “Super Off Road” that is now standard in many of today’s mobile applications.

Apple defines “In-App Purchase” as the ability for users to buy content that will be consumed within an app—things like premium goods, virtual content, and subscriptions. Under these qualifications, the late 80s upright arcade game “Super Off Road” possibly demonstrates the first-ever in-app purchase feature. After inserting a coin or token to start play, the game displays an “Off Road Racing Hints” screen which explains how to win money for new auto parts in the game’s Speed Shop. An additional hint states, “Add extra coins to buff out car sooner.” By pumping more money into the arcade machine, the user can purchase parts to be used within the game, giving the player an extra edge. Is this the first ever in-app purchase?

Drop us a comment if you’ve seen an earlier example of in-app purchasing.


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