IAFD itself was started by Peter Van Aarle, who had collected data on adult movies since 1981, when he began keeping notes on index cards on adult movies he had seen or were reviewed in Adam Film World. In 1993, he began contributing to the Usenet newsgroup alt.sex.movies, where he met Dan Abend. The two exchanged databases and began work on a WWW-based database.
Van Aarle later collaborated on this Web database with Ron Wilhelm who went by the pseudonym of "Heretic". The first version of the IAFD was brought on-line in 1995 by the programming efforts of Heretic who used the project as a training ground for SGML programming which he was learning in college. After Heretic left the Internet to join the military, the site eventually fell victim to link rot.
In the fall of 1998, Van Aarle was at a trade show with Jeff Vanzetti who asked if Van Arle would be interested in resurrecting the IAFD -- this time under its own domain. Vanzetti was looking for a project on which to teach himself on-line database programming using SQL Server, and this seemed like a natural fit, since they were both co-moderators of the newsgroup rec.arts.movies.erotica (RAME), and members of the newsgroup would often lament about the passing of the original Internet Adult Film Database.
The beginning of 1999 brought the first baby steps of the IAFD. Initially search boxes only searched females and data was restricted to movies released post-1989.
Van Aarle said on this:
"In those early days of the IAFD I had made one stipulation: I did not want the movie info on movies before 1989 to be available. The idea behind this was basically that if I would ever decide I wanted to do something commercially with my database it would be a good idea to keep the most valuable parts of it off limits. The data on older titles was clearly the most difficult to compile (and very few people I ever talked to had much info on the older stuff, with a few notable exceptions like Jim Holiday), and therefore the more valuable part of the data. The cut-off date of 1989 was a compromise to include at least the titles of Buttman, who was one of the most popular directors of the time."
Van Aarle died on September 18th 2005 at the age of 42 from a heart attack.