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Donkey Kong Turned 30 Yesterday—or Did He?

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Researching the exact birthday for a tribute to the 30th birthday of Donkey Kong, Patrick Scott Patterson of the Arcade Examiner came up with conflicting information. Absent official word from Nintendo, he thinks the big ape—and therefore Mario (né Jumpan)—turned 30 yesterday, July 9.

"Some sources specifically state the date as July 9, 1981," Patterson writes. Others, including Wikipedia and The First Quarter by Stephen Kent, say it is July. Still others say late June or October 10, 1981.


"Earnings reports in old trade magazines such as Play Meter start to show note of Donkey Kong in limited locations as the summer of 1981 wound down, leading this author to conclude the July dates to be the most likely," Patterson writes. His email to Nintendo was not immediately answered.

Donkey Kong's first North American installation was as a test machine in The Spot Tavern, a bar in suburban Seattle. After a successful trial there and at another location, old cabinets housing RadarScope, an earlier Nintendo game, were converted to Donkey Kong, going on sale in July 1981.


Patterson's examination of the rest of Donkey Kong's legacy concludes that without the barrel-tossing simian, video gaming—especially home console gaming—in North America would look quite different today.


Donkey Kong Turns 30: How this Arcade Classic Shaped Today's Video Game World [Arcade Game Examiner]