Geek Trivia

Netflix Was Created In Response To Late Fees Incurred From The Rental Of Which Movie?

Jurassic Park
Apollo 13
The Fifth Element
In The 1980s A Nuclear Safety Task Force Proposed The Creation Of What, To Protect Future Civilizations?

Answer: Apollo 13

While necessity might be the mother of many inventions, embarrassment should get a little credit too. After a particularly high late-return fee at his local rental place, Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings started thinking about how there had to be a better way to do things. He described the moment in a 2009 column in Fortune magazine.

“The genesis of Netflix came in 1997 when I got this late fee, about $40, for Apollo 13. I remember the fee because I was embarrassed about it. That was back in the VHS days, and it got me thinking that there’s a big market out there.

So I started to investigate the idea of how to create a movie-rental business by mail. I didn’t know about DVDs, and then a friend of mine told me they were coming. I ran out to Tower Records in Santa Cruz, Calif., and mailed CDs to myself, just a disc in an envelope. It was a long 24 hours until the mail arrived back at my house, and I ripped them open and they were all in great shape. That was the big excitement point.”

Nearly two decades after the fact, Netflix is dominating not only the video disc-by-mail market, but the streaming market too. Not a bad return on investment for a $40 late fee.

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.