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IMDb’s Col Needham on Building World’s Biggest Movie Database From ‘Paper Diary’ (Video)

”It’s like, ‘Why am I writing this down when I could create some software to store it all?'“ executive tells TheWrap on site’s 25th anniversary

Col Needham, the founder and CEO of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), recently celebrated his site’s 25th anniversary.

However, the site’s beginnings were far from the behemoth that now generates 250 million unique monthly visitors per month.

“I used to have a paper diary and started writing things in the paper diary,” Needham told TheWrap’s editor in chief Sharon Waxman. “But I think I got to week two of my paper diary and it’s like, ‘Why am I writing this down when I could create some software to store it all?'”

From then on, Needham would rewind whatever tape he was watching and type in all the main cast and crew, along with his thoughts on the film. Needham began recording his filmgoing adventures in 1981, and says today he has seen “9,370 unique movies.”

He went on to publish the very first version of the IMDb software in 1990, launching the site shortly thereafter. “We got out first website in the summer of 1993 and we were one of the first 100 websites to launch,” Needham said.

Needham also spoke about selling his site to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in 1998. “Jeff explained how Amazon was going from selling books to music and would be opening a video store later in 1998 and were looking for a website to partner with,” he said. “Jeff had such a clear, clear vision of how IMDb could fit within the Amazon environment, how we could grow, how we would be a separate brand.”