Pac-Man turns 40

On May 22, 1980, Pac-Man debuted on arcade machines in Japan.

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Game designer Toru Iwatani came up with the shape for the game’s titular character when he took a slice from a pizza, with the remainder resembling a circle with a wide-open mouth. As for the game’s power pellets that make ghosts edible, Iwanati took the inspiration from the animated series Popeye, where the hero could face his nemesis Bluto after consuming a dose of spinach.

The game didn’t immediately take off in Japan as it was designed to engage an audience not accustomed to video games at the time: women and children.

In October 1980, the game became an immediate hit in the U.S., with developer Namco selling over 100,000 Pac-Man machines in the first year. Per quarter, the US gamers spent an equivalent of $1 billion on the game.

40 years down the road, Pac-Man remains one of the most infuential games of all times, being the official mascot of Bandai Namco.

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