1981 – The arcade game “Donkey Kong” is released

One of the most successful game franchises of all time – if not the most successful franchise – Donkey Kong originally started life as a Popeye game. Nintendo didn’t have the rights to Popeye, so they altered the characters into more original ones – although as the obviously King Kong inspired name of the game suggests, not that original. Still, it’s a good thing for them they did.

The Donkey Kong franchise has done very well itself, but Donkey Kong was also the origin of Mario, who would go on to become Nintendo’s flagship character and a highly successful game franchise in his own right. To date, across assorted media, there are more than 20 Donkey Kong games (depending on how one counts different versions of the same game), and another 30+ Mario games. It’s hard to imagine that a Popeye franchise would have been that popular.

Referenced in:

Do the Donkey Kong — Buckner & Garcia

1980 – Pac-Man is first released

The highest-grossing and most well-known computer game of all time, Pac Man was created by the Japanese company Namco. It first made an impact as an arcade game, but by the mid-eighties, it was available for purchase to use on home gaming consoles, and it has remained available on many gaming platforms ever since.

At the time, moral watchdogs worried about its effect on impressionable youth, but since hardly anyone ever spent hours in dark surroundings listening to extremely repetitive electronic music while gobbling down a variety of pills, their concerns were clearly groundless.

Referenced in:

Pac-Man — Weird Al Yankovic
Pac-Man Fever — Buckner & Garcia