Pac-Man Fever Begins

Pac-Man ArcadeOctober 10, 1980

Midway releases the video game Pac-Man to arcades in North America. While the Japanese release under the name “Puck-Man” occurred in May of that year, the game’s popularity didn’t take off until being released in the United States. Pac-Man will become the first true mega-hit video game in history, sparking “Pac-Man Fever” and catapulting the video game industry into mainstream culture.

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  • Russell Scattone

    Uh, it wasn’t released in Japan until May 22nd 1980 and Oct 26, 1980 for the US. Also it’s Pac-Man not Mac

    • Thanks for commenting. I fixed the typo – wow, that was embarrassing!

      I do mention the fact that the game was first released in Japan in May of that year (as Puck-Man) and I’ve now linked it to the article I had for that date.

      However, investigating the exact October date now shows some discrepancies. According to Wikipedia the date is October 26th, but the only reference for that is “a date shown” in an article from January of 1992 titled “Midway celebrates Pac-Man”. However that reference doesn’t say anything about where the article was published and I can not find a single reference to the existence of that article anywhere else. If you or anyone else has a copy of this article, I’d love to see it.

      As far as confirming the actual date, the best I could come up with was a reference to the date of October 10, 1980 as the date that Namco transferred rights to Midway for Pac-Man (and Rally-X as well). This was published in a ruling by the United States International Trade Commission in July of 1982, which I link below. Now whether that was the actual date that Midway started shipping Pac-Man in North America is not clear. I can’t find any definitive evidence either way. It is entirely possible that the 10th was the day Midway started shipping and that is why the rights were transferred on that day. That day was a Friday, so it might make sense that Midway wanted the game delivered to take advantage of a weekend. But perhaps the rights were transferred on the 10th and a little over two weeks later Midway launched the game. The 26th was a Sunday so on one hand they’d miss a weekend launch date, but perhaps that didn’t matter and arcade operators wanted to take delivery of games on a slow day … if they even took deliveries on a Sunday? Certainly I welcome any information anyone has on this important event in tech history.