The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information related to movies, actors, television shows, production crew personnel, video games, and most recently, fictional characters featured in visual entertainment media. IMDb launched on October 17, 1990, and in 1998 was acquired by Amazon.com.
The IMDb originated from two lists started as independent projects in early 1989 by participants in the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.movies. In each case, a single maintainer recorded items emailed by newsgroup readers, and posted updated versions of his list from time to time. The founding ideas of the database began with a posting titled "Those Eyes", on the subject of actresses with beautiful eyes. Hank Driskill began to collect a list of attractive actresses and what movies they had appeared in, and as the size of the repeated posting grew far beyond a normal newsgroup article, it soon became known simply as "THE LIST". (The first code to manage this list was a Perl program written by Randal L. Schwartz to "invert the list", organizing the list by movies instead of actresses.)
The other project, started by Chuck Musciano, was briefly called the "Movie Ratings List" and soon became the "Movie Ratings Report". Musciano simply asked readers to rate movies on a scale of one to ten, and reported on the votes. He soon began posting "ballots" with lists of movies for people to rate, so his list also grew quickly.
In 1990, Col Needham collated the two lists and produced a "Combined LIST & Movie Ratings Report". (His first posting of the database scripts is not available.) 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 as 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".