The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information related to movies, television shows, actors, production crew personnel, video games and fictional characters featured in visual entertainment media. It is one of the most popular online entertainment destinations, with over 100 million unique users each month and a solid and rapidly growing mobile presence. IMDb was launched on October 17, 1990, and in 1998 was acquired by Amazon.com.
History before website
IMDb originated from a single list started as a hobby by English film enthusiast Col Needham (founder and CEO of IMDb) in early 1987. The founding ideas of IMDb began with a posting by Col Needham titled "Those Eyes", on the subject of actresses with beautiful eyes. On October 17, 1990, Col Needham posted a simple software package to the USENET newsgroup rec.arts.movies, which allowed readers of that group to create and search a basic movie and TV database. The original database was built from the lists of credits that Col Needham and two other readers had begun to publish on the rec.arts.movies group. Other film fans began to participate in the collection of data on the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.movies.
Needham soon started a (male) "Actors List", while Dave Knight began a "Directors List", and Andy Krieg took over "THE LIST", which would later be renamed the "Actress List". Both this and the Actors List had been restricted to people who were still alive and working, but retired people began to be added, and Needham also started what was then (but did not remain) a separate "Dead Actors/Actresses List". The goal now was to make the lists as inclusive as the maintainers could manage. In late 1990, the lists included almost 10,000 movies and television series. On October 17, 1990, Needham posted a collection of Unix shell scripts which could be used to search the four lists, and the database that would become the IMDb was born. At the time, it was known as the "rec.arts.movies movie database".
On the web
The database had been expanded to include additional categories of filmmakers and other demographic material, as well as trivia, biographies, and plot summaries; the movie ratings had been properly integrated with the list data; and a centralized email interface for querying the database had been created by Alan Jay. Later in the year it moved onto the World Wide Web (a network in its infancy at that time) under the name of Cardiff Internet Movie Database. The database resided on the servers of the computer science department of Cardiff University in the UK. Rob Hartill was the original web interface author. In 1994 the email interface was revised to accept the submission of all information, meaning that people no longer had to email the specific list maintainer with their updates. However, the structure remained that information received on a single film was divided among multiple section managers, the sections being defined and determined by categories of film personnel and the individual filmographies contained therein. Its management also continued to be in the hands of a small contingent of underpaid or volunteer "section managers" who were receiving ever-growing quantities of information on films from around the world and across time from contributors of widely varying levels of expertise and informational resources. Despite the annual claims of Needham, in a year-end report newsletter to the Top 50 contributors, that "fewer holes" must now remain for the coming year, the amount of information still missing from the database was vastly underestimated. Over the next few years, the database was run on a network of mirrors across the world with donated bandwidth.
The website is Perl-based. As of May 2011, the site has been filtered in China for more than one year, although many users address it through proxy server or by VPN.
On October 17, 2010 IMDb launched original video (www.imdb.com/20) in celebration of its 20th anniversary.
For more information visit IMDB on Wikipedia.