IMDb is 19 years old

    On October 17, 2009, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site greeted visitors with a festive logo. The largest database with filmography and the oldest crowdsourcing web project in the world turned 19 (nineteen) years old. By the standards of the Internet, this is a very respectable age. The project appeared eight years earlier than Google and five years earlier than Yahoo. It is even older than the first web browser. Founder Col Needham tells how it happened.

    The fact is that on October 17, 1990 Needham published the first Unix scripts to search a huge archive of filmography information collected in the framework of the USENET group rec.arts.movies (an analogue of our FIDO). And there were, no less, more than 23,000 records of 10,000 films.

    Although the name IMDb appeared only four years later, the birth of the project took place on that day.

    In 1993, a mail interface was developed for the IMDb database, so it became not necessary to install it on your PC, search queries could be sent by e-mail and also receive a response. Surprisingly, the mail interface works and is still in demand.

    The first IMDb web server was launched in 1993 on the server of Cardiff University in Wales. Shortly thereafter, Col Needham and web-based author Rob Hartill exchanged surprised email messages: site traffic reached 100 people a day, and such popularity was unexpected for the founders. Soon they realized that this was far from the limit.

    At first, the site had only an interface for accessing information from USENET, but in April 1994, developers made a form for adding new information directly via the web. Thus, IMDb finally returned to its crowdsourcing roots, and users were able to replenish the database through the web, and not through USENET.

    In 1995, users contributed more information each week than there was in the entire database as of the end of 1990. By 1997, the base has grown a hundred times.

    In order to pay hosting bills, in 1995 it was decided to register a commercial company. So in January 1996, the company appeared Internet Movie Database, Ltd. (they closed other people's mirrors and bought nine servers in different data centers of the USA and Great Britain), and in 1998 Amazon bought it. Only in 1998, the project staff began to receive their first salary and were able to leave day jobs (they used to work on IMDb at night and on weekends). Those who decided not to quit other jobs were issued part-time.

    From the very beginning, IMDb was a crowdsourcing project, which was replenished by the users themselves. So he has remained so far, despite all the innovations like the news service and film libraries with free films.

    Now the monthly audience of the site is 57 million people (2.5 billion hits), and the site itself is among the 50 largest Internet sites (39th in the world, according to Alexa), being the oldest among them.

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