Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, October 17, 2021

It’s mind-boggling to consider that something still referred to as “new media” could host a property that’s a full two decades old. But that’s the case on this day, as The Internet Movie Database, or IMDb, celebrates its 20th birthday:

It was 20 years ago today that I posted 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. This was the 17th October 1990. The database was built from the lists of credits which I and two other readers had begun to publish in the same group. At the time the database only covered actors, actresses, and directors. The World Wide Web was a long way off and anyone wanting to use the database had to install it locally on their computer. IMDb was born though and anyone reading the group on that day could have access to the Internet’s first freely-available movie and TV database.

The transience of online is apparent: Despite archiving efforts, a good deal of what’s created on the Internet is not really intended for posterity. So it’s something of a miracle that IMDb has lasted so long, and with its original core purpose intact, even after the transition from Net to Web, and eventual acquisition by present parent company Amazon.

Personally, I’d say that IMDb was probably one of the first compelling reasons for me to regularly fire up a browser (let’s conveniently ignore the default porn factor, of course :) ). My longstanding love of films found a ready outlet for the volume of trivial information on IMDb, and still does; to this day, it’s one of only a couple of sites that can suck me in for extended periods of time, with one link leading deeper and deeper into others.

Even with my interest in cinema flagging of late, IMDb still manages to draw me in. So I hope it sticks around for another 20 years. Or until the Web runs out of steam. Or until they stop making full-fledged Hollywood productions in favor of YouTube clips. Whichever of those scenarios comes first…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/17/2010 07:53pm
Category: History, Internet, Movies
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