October 9, 1985: Rupert Murdoch announces his plan to form Fox Broadcasting Company. Murdoch’s News Corp. had just completed purchase of 20th Century Fox along with television stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Dallas and Houston. As a result, News Corp had acquired an extensive film library, the rights to several television series and access to 20% of households with televisions in the United States at that time. The “big three” networks–ABC, NBC and CBS–now had true competition. The network went live exactly one year after the announcement, airing on 96 stations and reaching more than 80% of American households with TV. It has been the home of several hit television shows such as The Simpsons, Married…With Children, Arrested Development, 24, The X-Files, American Idol and Beverly Hills, 90210. These shows and others have left an indelible mark on American media and popular culture, and today Fox Broadcasting Company is the leading network among adults between the ages of 18 and 49.
October 18, 1985: Nintendo brings its Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Mario Bros. to the United States. Mario first appeared in Donkey Kong in 1981, but it wasn’t until 1985 that he became the star of his own game. First introduced in Japan on September 13, 1985, Super Mario Bros. was in the original bundle of 18 games offered with the North American launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which was launched on the same day. Although it was not the first home video gaming console (the Magnavox Odyssey of 1972 holds that honor), the NES was the first true hit in video game consoles. Over 90,000 units were sold in New York by the end of 1985, and at the time Nintendo was the company to beat in terms of video game console sales. Since the first NES, Nintendo has had its share of ups and downs but continues to put out top-selling products; last August, Nintendo’s Wii passed the 30 million sales mark in the US, and over 73 million consoles have been sold worldwide since it was launched in late 2006. As for Mario, he has appeared in over 200 games since 1981. As for Mario, he has appeared in over 200 games since 1981. It’s hard to imagine video games (or for some of us, childhood) without-a him.
October 26, 1985: The very first Blockbuster Video store opens in Dallas, TX, and home entertainment has never been the same since. As the first video rental chain, Blockbuster’s success lay in using technology to streamline the video rental process, making it easy for stores to carry and manage thousands of tapes, titles and memberships at an affordable price. Previously, video rental stores were mostly mom-and-pop stores which carried a limited number of movies, and renting a movie could be both time-consuming and expensive, especially if a tape was not returned by its due date. But with Blockbuster, movie fans had the freedom to choose from a wide variety of genres and titles at one store. 25 years later, the way people watch movies has changed and, unable to keep up, the company has just filed for bankruptcy. The increased availability for on-demand viewing has increased dramatically with TiVo, the Internet and on-demand features in cable packages. Of course, the advent of Netflix has also played a large role: Renting a movie is so efficient now, you don’t even need to leave your couch. Never mind rewind the VHS tape.