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The History of Pacman

Pac-Facts by Doug Trueman

We've compiled a list of facts you probably never knew about PacMan. Some of these are also included later in this feature, but we thought it would be best if we assembled them into a list of small, bite-sized pieces.

  • Pacman is the best-selling coin-operated game in history. Forget Street Fighter 2 and Tetris. In the game's debut year alone, over 100,000 Pacman machines were made and sold around the world.
  • Namco estimates that the original Pacman arcade title has been played more than ten billion times in its 20-year history. Namco's total Pacman revenues have reached $100 million... one quarter at a time.
  • Pacman was inspired by a pizza with a slice missing. Namco designer Tohru Iwatani went out for the evening with some friends and then dove for dinner. The rest is history.
  • 1982 saw the debut of ABC's animated cartoon, The Pacman Show. It ran for two years as Pacman tried to save his friends and Pac-Land from the evil Mezmaron.
  • Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia spoofed Ted Nugent's song Cat Scratch Fever and turned it into Pacman Fever. The song hit number nine.
  • Dozens of hacked versions of Pacman and Ms. Pacman exist. These games give the Pac character a speed bonus with the push of a button or more challenging mazes with complex series of turns.
  • It took eight people 15 months to complete the original Pacman arcade title. Four worked on the hardware, four worked on the software.
  • Pacman and his fellow Pacs travel 20 percent faster through mazes that have been cleared of dots than when they're eating. If you've got a ghost on your tail, head for open ground.
  • Pacman has been licensed to more than 250 companies for over 400 products. There are Pacman air fresheners, cereal boxes, flip phones, costumes, record books, and even a hot rod.
  • The business world has co-opted Pacman's name as a technique to protect against a hostile takeover. The defending company would instead swallow the larger company in a move known as the Pacman defense.
  • In July of 1999, Florida resident and die-hard Pacman fan Billy Mitchell achieved the first perfect score in Pacman (3,333,360) after playing for six hours straight. He beat all 256 screens eating every dot, fruit, and ghost (all four ghosts were eaten with each power pellet) - using only one Pacman!
  • The author of this article has a huge Pacman pillow on his sofa. He also inexplicably gained 50 pounds over the course of writing this feature.

Used with permission from CNET Networks, Inc., Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

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