Early adopters could also visit one of the other nine sites that were live. The Internet Movie Database quickly joined this elite list of fledgeling websites as the net’s first film resource.
Initially hosted for free on borrowed server space at Cardiff University, IMDb quickly developed into an incorporated company with Needham as founder and managing director and a dedicated private web server in, of all places, Wisconsin.
The volunteer staff joined the books one by one, giving up their day jobs to run the ever-growing database that was doubling in size every fortnight.
Staff and user contributions helped the site to continue growing until Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos offered shareholders a partnership deal in 1998.
IMDb would continue as a separate company; the only difference was it would now be hosted on Amazon’s servers in Seattle and give users the chance to purchase film titles in the database through the world’s leading e-commerce retailer.
As part of the deal, IMDb’s shareholders were paid several million dollars’ worth of Amazon shares and what started as a hobby became one of the internet’s bona fide success stories.
As Needham excitedly tells us, with a listophile’s love of number crunching, the original 10,000-title database has grown into a list of 1.2m titles with over 21m filmography credits.
IMDb serves 2.5bn pages of information a month to over 57m unique users. “And it’s all,” grins its creator, “from a humble beginning in a Bristol bedroom”.