Updated:
Original:
Year
1985
Month Day
October 19

First Blockbuster store opens

On this day in 1985, the first Blockbuster video-rental store opens, in Dallas, Texas. At a time when most video stores were small-scale operations featuring a limited selection of titles, Blockbuster opened with some 8,000 tapes displayed on shelves around the store and a computerized check-out process. The first store was a success and Blockbuster expanded rapidly, eventually becoming one of the world’s largest providers of in-home movies and game entertainment.

Blockbuster was founded by David Cook, who had previously owned a business that provided computer software services to the oil and gas industry in Texas. Cook saw the potential in the video-rental business and after opening the first Blockbuster in 1985, he added three more stores the following year. In 1987, he sold part of the business to a group of investors that included Wayne Huizenga, founder of Waste Management, Inc., the world’s biggest garbage disposal company. Later that year, Cook left Blockbuster and Huizenga assumed control of the company and moved its headquarters to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Under Huizenga’s leadership, Blockbuster embarked on an aggressive expansion plan, snapping up existing video store chains and opening scores of new stores. By 1988, Blockbuster was America’s leading video chain, with some 400 stores. By the early 1990s, Blockbuster had launched its 1,000th store and expanded into the overseas market.

In 1994, Blockbuster was acquired by the media giant Viacom Inc., whose brands include MTV and Nickelodeon. In the mid-1990s, the digital video disc (DVD) made its debut and in 1997, Netflix, an online DVD rental service, was founded. Around that same time, the e-commerce giant Amazon.com launched a video and DVD store. Blockbuster faced additional competition from the rise of pay-per-view and on-demand movie services, through which viewers could pay for and watch movies instantly in their own homes. In 2004, Blockbuster split off from Viacom. That same year, Blockbuster launched an online DVD rental service to compete with Netflix. As of 2008, Blockbuster had some 8,000 stores around the world and was well known for its advertising campaigns, which included the long-running slogan “Make it a Blockbuster Night.” In 2006, the company, headquartered once again in Dallas, had global revenues of more than $5.5 billion.

Tags
terms:
Film

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Stock markets crash on "Black Monday"

The largest-ever one-day percentage decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average comes not in 1929 but on this day in 1987. As a number of unrelated events conspired to tank global markets, the Dow dropped 508 points—22.6 percent—in a panic that foreshadowed larger systemic ...read more

Napoleon retreats from Moscow

One month after Napoleon Bonaparte’s massive invading force entered a burning and deserted Moscow, the starving French army is forced to begin a hasty retreat out of Russia. Following the rejection of his Continental System by Czar Alexander I, French Emperor Napoleon I invaded ...read more

Guildford Four are cleared

The Guildford Four, convicted of the 1975 IRA bombings of public houses in Guildford and Woolwich, England, are cleared of all charges after nearly 15 years in prison. On October 5, 1974, an IRA bomb killed four people in a Guildford pub frequented by British military personnel, ...read more

Victory at Yorktown

Hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution. Lord Cornwallis was one of the most capable British generals of the ...read more

Battle of Cedar Creek

Union General Philip Sheridan averts a near disaster in the Shenandoah Valley when he rallies his troops after a surprise attack by Confederate General Jubal Early and scores a major victory that almost destroys Early’s army at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia. Through the ...read more

Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown

On this day in 1781, British General Charles Cornwallis formally surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a French and American force at Yorktown, Virginia, bringing the American Revolution to a close. Previously, Cornwallis had driven General George Washington’s Patriot ...read more

First Battle of Ypres

On October 19, 1914, near the Belgian city of Ypres, Allied and German forces begin the first of what would be three battles to control the city and its advantageous positions on the north coast of Belgium during the First World War. After the German advance through Belgium and ...read more