Oscar's official name is the Academy Award of Merit. Though the actual story of how the Academy Award of Merit came to be known as the Oscar is unclear, the most popular story has been that Academy librarian - and eventual executive director - Margaret Herrick believed it looked a lot like her Uncle Oscar. After she made that observation, the Academy staff began calling the award 'Oscar.' The Academy didn't officially use the nickname until 1939.
The first Academy Award of Merit was awarded on May 16, 1929. The Oscar statuette was designed by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons and sculpted by George Stanley. The figure of a knight standing on a reel of film, hands gripping a sword, hasn't changed since its initial design, other than a small increase in the size of the base.
SOURCE: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences