Flashback 1985: Blockbuster Is Born

Thirty-one years ago this week, 29-year-old entrepreneur David Cook opened the first Blockbuster video store in Dallas, Texas. An investment group later bought the company and parlayed it in to a national powerhouse that became synonymous with movie rentals—from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray.

At its peak, in 2004, Blockbuster had more than 9,000 stores and some 60,000 employees. The stores were everywhere.

But by the time Blu-ray launched in 2006, the chain was in a death spiral, unable to compete with Netflix and Redbox. In 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and less than a year later, Dish picked up the remaining 1,700 stores for $228 million with plans to continue operating some of the locations. At the end of 2013, the company pulled the plug on its DVD by Mail service and in January 2014 closed the remaining 300 U.S. company-owned stores.

You’re probably thinking Blockbuster is dead but 51 franchise stores are still operating in 11 states, according to blockbuster.com.

Do you have a Blockbuster store in your town? Tell us about it!

Michaela's picture

For more than a decade, touring the peripheral walls of Blockbuster stores--where the new releases were shelved--was a weekly ritual, especially on Tuesdays. Now I let my fingers click through the New Releases screen on Netflix, updated weekly.

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Blockbuster was a big part of my 90's....and 2000's. I was a bitter, bitter man went 'the video store' went the way of the dodo bird in the face of competition from the likes of Netflix. Primarily I was mad that such poor audio/video streaming services were bankrupting stores like Blockbuster that allowed me to rent Blu Ray videos with the ultimate in quality. I don't like buying to many movies so now I have a Blue Ray player collecting dust unless it's a movie I 'just have to own'.

Time passes and streaming has improved but even to this day plain old 1080P Blu Ray discs are far superior to the supposed 4K streams that are highly compressed and then coupled with a compressed 5.1 track.

RIP Blockbuster you are sorely missed.

John_Werner's picture

Kinda like the safe as milk version of Tower Record for the rest of us.. It certainly had it's place