On May 22, 1980, Midway and Namco released Pac-Man, the highest-grossing video game of all time. The insanely popular maze game was the first of its genre and blew reigning champs Space Invaders and Asteroids out of the arcade—350,000 arcade cabinets were sold in the game’s first 18 months. It also introduced the power-up and animated cut scenes, innovations that influence gaming to this day.
Pac-Man endures as a cultural icon of the 1980s; it is recognized worldwide as one of the legends of old-school gaming. On top of selling licensed merchandise of every conceivable variety, the game got its own animated series in 1982-83, garnered eight Guinness World Records, and even inspired a Top Ten Billboard hit single (below) and got its own parody courtesy Weird Al Yankovic, though it was never officially released.
In 2010, for Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary, Google unveiled the playable Pac-Man mini-game doodle, the first-ever interactive Google doodle and perhaps the best to date. It was a huge hit–people with calculators speculated that 4.8 million man-hours were lost to the novelty of playing Pac-Man in the Google homepage. If you feel like wasting a few more of your bosses minutes, you can still play it on the official Pac-Man site alongside PAC-MATCH Party, a match-3 game in the spirit of Bejeweled. (It’s addictive. I’m still playing it right now.)
Pac-Man enthusiasts can pick up all sorts of weird game themed stuff, including these super-classy tank dresses. (I have to admit that PM looks an awful lot like the WalMart rollback happy face to me.)
Aaaanyway, happy birthday Pac-Man! Thanks for all the millions of hours of fun and frustration. We love you. :)
[sources: 1, 2, 3] [images: 1, 2, 3, 4]