Re: The first hyip.
Ten years ago my buddy turned $1,000 into $16,000 with E Biz Ventures. It had a football theme to it. He re-invested all $16,000 and lost it. Too much greed. E-gold payments had the memo "First and 10... Do it again." He was involved with hyips for a year before that, but they were all private, meaning you needed a password to access the website. So that means online hyips have been operational since 1999.
E Biz Ventures had some downtime, lost their domain and became EE Biz Ventures. It was one of the most "successful" hyips that had a website, with over 50 million stolen. It would have kept going but the SEC interfered.
Studio Traffic was the first autosurf.