Twenty years ago today, October 17th, 1990, the Internet Movie Database was born! From September 28th, the site created its own anniversary section to celebrate the past two decades of movies and television. They had a daily Star of the Day video where they asked a number of actors, directors, and producers to tell them about their love of movies and why movies inspire them, as well as their IMDb experience — both the good and the bad. For the list-aholic amongst us (who doesn’t love lists, right?), there are all kinds of those under the 20th anniversary list page, where staff list everything from 10 Best Underrated and Forgotten movies in the past 20 years, 20 Years of Movie Trailers, Top 20 movie characters of the past two decades, and a fun list of 10 ‘That Guy From That Thing’ Actors.
The best part for me is learning the history of IMDb—I had no idea it was a UK company based in Bristol—and how it all started as a hobby from a film enthusiast just like me and my fellow movie bloggers! In the letter from Col Needham, founder and CEO of IMDb, he intimated that the site started as
“… a simple software package to the USENET newsgroup rec.arts.movies, which allowed readers of that group to create and search a very basic movie and TV database… There was no grand business plan. In fact, there was no commercial use of the Internet back in those days at all. We were just a bunch of volunteer enthusiasts who wanted to share our love of TV and movies with other people and to create something interesting.”
What’s more amazing was that even five years later, “when the usage had grown so large that we could no longer afford the time to maintain it as a hobby,” the site still hadn’t made any money and all the staff remained volunteers. Apparently it was a certain alien apocalypse Summer blockbuster released in July 1996 that bought their first movie advertising, which made it possible for the staff to become full-time employees! You can visit this page if you want to learn more in-depth history about the site. And guess what, though we use IMDb primarily for research, the folks in Hollywood actually use the vast data as a ‘premier dating vessel’ according to this 2004 article in The Guardian.
And as a movie lover and a huge fan of the site, I want to take the time to offer a small tribute to the motherload of all things movies. After all, blogging about movies would be really challenging without IMDb! 🙂 In fact, even before I started this blog, it’s already been a staple for me. I also owe it to the site for the blog hits and residual traffic I got every time my post made it to their coveted IMDb Hit List. Ever since they picked my Sharlto Copley post back in September 2009, they’ve kindly featured this wee blog eleven times and for each one I am grateful for the opportunity.
So here’s to 20+ more years of success and great things, IMDb! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS!
Fellow bloggers and readers, do you IMDb (yes I use it as a verb)? Feel free to share your thoughts about the site (regardless of good or bad).