thirty years of PacMan


I was surprised for a moment yesterday when I opened Google to find they were celebrating the 30th anniversary of PacMan. Thirty years, really? And then I remembered back to my childhood and the day we got PacMan for our Atari.

Up until that point, I think we had Space Invaders and Asteroids and the standard Atari fare. We (the brothers and I) had pooled our money together and our mom had reserved a copy of PacMan for us at Sears. Living in a small town, this meant a full-blown field trip to obtain this special jewel. So, Saturday morning chores, a trip to Jackson to McDonald’s (yes, that seemed special at the time) and then to Sears to purchase our beloved new game.

Back home, Brian and I commenced playing, figuring things out as we went, while William, age 7, sat down and read the instruction manual. Apparently this process served him well, as he is now a mechanical engineer. And, I am told, he was quickly able to thrash us at most video games, perhaps due to his methodical approach.

We enjoyed many hours of Atari, and never had another gaming system. The old Atari stayed around, sheltered safely in the attic. When our dad moved from Henderson to Nashville, the Atari made the move with him. We found it in a box in a closet when we were sorting things out after his funeral. None of us wanted to keep it, so we let it go with the rest of the stuff that went to the estate auction.

Several months later, I received an email from a long-time friend. She had recently obtained an old Atari and a box of games from a local on-line auction company. Going thru the box, she found some hand-written score sheets in the bottom with our names on it. The Clifford Atari. I kid you not. So now she has the Atari that she played at our house oh-so-many years ago.

I should add that this photo of William playing PacMan was taken last year at the Jacksonville Airport while we waited on Brian to arrive for his commencement ceremony for his doctorate degree. So, on Saturday, Brian got his Ph.D, and on Sunday we had to take him to the airport arcade. For PacMan.

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