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IMDB just turned 25, which means it's older than the internet!

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 6:26 IST

The world's largest online database for movie buffs just turned 25.

In that time IMDB - or the Internet Movie Database - has gone from being one man's chronicling of movies into practically a reflex action for the internet world when it comes to choosing what to watch. Started on October 17, 1990, the IMDB actually predates the internet as we know it. The proposal that resulted in the World Wide Web only happened on November 12, 1990.

It started with a British tech nerd, Col Needham, who posted a bunch of shell scripts on USENET, an early alternative to the internet. The scripts, posted to a group of movie lovers just like Needham, allowed users to search a trove of movie credits that had been compiled by the group's users.

It was a far cry from the site we know today. Today, IMDB attracts over 200,000,000 users a month. If the site's monthly users were to form a country, it would be the world's 6th largest, comfortably eclipsing Pakistan and running Brazil (the actual number 5) close.

It would also have a booming multiplex industry, a thriving file-sharing community and be the world's largest importer of popcorn.

And it would have a sizable number of Indians, with India being the largest source of traffic after the US.

But that's beside the point. The point is that IMDB is now insanely huge. From an obscure series of scripts on USENET, the site is now one of the world's top 50 visited sites according to Alexa rankings. At number 48, it is the only entertainment-based website in the top 50 list, the bulk of which is made up of search engines.

That's no surprise when you really think about it - when it comes to entertainment, IMDB is the search engine, an entity that literally gets bigger with each passing moment.

No longer just movies

Not content with just becoming the world's most popular repository of movies, it went on to cover TV and has about 3,500,000 titles in its database. This includes productions all the way back from 1875 to 2025.

That's 2025. 10 years ahead of today. It's not just about movies and shows either.

IMDB has an extensive catalogue of actors, actresses and crew members. This list currently adds up to a whopping 6,819,041 people, but don't quote me on that because it's likely to have gone up by the time you read this.

TIL: Internet Movie Database has listings till 2025. That's 10 years into the future #IMDB25

In fact, no role is too small to be chronicled on IMDB with the likes of the hitherto unheard of Anne Sellors who will go down in film history with her one role - Woman Who Urinates on Herself - from the 1984 straight-to-TV movie Threads. It's this sort of comprehensiveness that has turned IMDB's founder Needham into one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, despite him having no real background in film or movies, just a hobby.

The company, which became a subsidiary of Amazon in 1998, now even gives out awards based on its STARmeter, a metric of actors' popularity.

It doesn't just document cinema, it now facilitates it

The acquisition of Without A Box in 2008 allows IMDB users to submit their own movies to 850 film festivals worldwide including Sundance.

In addition, users also have access to full episodes of shows, entire movies as well as independent short films. They now even have their own web series What to Watch for those too lazy to read reviews.

It may be among the oldest websites out there, but clearly IMDB intends to remain as inventive as the freshest kid on the block. And thanks to a booming television and indie filmmaking scene and the internet growing faster than we can keep up, this 25 year old has yet to hit its prime.

First published: 21 October 2015, 11:59 IST
Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari

The Ranjan (Beardus Horribilis) is a largely land-dwelling herbivorous mammal. Originally from a far more tropical habitat, the Ranjan can now be found wandering the streets of Delhi complaining about the weather, looking for watering holes and foraging for affordable snacks. Mostly human, mostly happy and mostly harmless, the Ranjan is prone to mood swings when deprived of his morning coffee. Having recently migrated to the Catch offices, he now inhabits a shadowy corner and spends his time distracting people and producing video content to distract them further.