The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information related to films, television programs, and video games. This includes actors, production crew personnel, and fictional characters featured in these three 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. As of April 27, 2013, IMDb had 2,503,783 titles (includes episodes) and 5,192,493 personalities in its database, as well as 43 million registered users. The website has an Alexa rank of 51.
IMDb originated with a Usenet posting by British film fan and professional computer programmer Col Needham entitled "Those Eyes", about actresses with beautiful eyes. Others with similar interests soon responded with additions or different lists of their own. Needham subsequently started a (male) "Actors List", while Dave Knight began a "Directors List", and Andy Krieg took over "THE LIST" from Hank Driskill, which would later be renamed the "Actress List". Both lists had been restricted to people who were alive and working, but soon retired people were added, so Needham started what was then (but did not remain) a separate "Dead Actors/Actresses List". The goal of the participants now was to make the lists as inclusive as possible. By late 1990, the lists included almost 10,000 movies and television series correlated with actors and actresses appearing therein.
On October 17, 1990, Needham developed and posted a collection of Unix shell scripts which could be used to search the four lists, and thus the database that would become the IMDb was born. At the time, it was known as the "rec.arts.movies movie database", but by 1993 had been moved out of the Usenet group as an independent website underwritten and controlled by Needham and personal followers. Other website users were invited to contribute data which they may have collected and verified, on a volunteer basis, which greatly increased the amount and types of data to be stored. Entire new sections were added. As the site grew hugely, full production crews, uncredited performers and other demographic data were added. Needham's group allowed some advertising to support ongoing operations of the site, including the hiring of full-time paid data managers. All the primary staff came (and still come) from the burgeoning computer industry and/or training schools and did not have extensive expertise in the visual media. In 1998, unable to secure sufficient funding from limited advertising, contributions and unable to raise support from the visual media industries or academia, Needham sold the IMDb to Amazon.com, on condition that its operation would remain in the hands of Needham and his small cadre of managers, who soon were able to move into full-time paid staff positions.