On this day in 1985 the first Blockbuster video rental store opened its doors in Dallas, Texas. After finding initial success, the owners of Blockbuster started an aggressive expansion project that put stores all across the country in less than a decade. People who didn't want to subscribe to a cable television network like HBO now had the option of seeing any movie at home whenever they wanted without having to purchase said movie. The company is now struggling to hang on with the advent of Netflix and Redbox making video stores obsolete. Blockbuster was able to sign a deal to get movies 30 days before those outlets, and created their own mail order movie service. It was most recently purchased by Dish network.
Also on this day in 1985 the Eurotrash group A-ha reached #1 on the billboard charts with their only hit "Take on Me". Besides a shrill high note at the end of the chorus, it became widely popular due to its music video. MTV awarded it with video of the year, along with many other honors at its annual Video Music Awards. The groundbreaking use of animation and video made it instantly stand out from the Billy Idols and Cindy Laupers of the world. If you look up staying power in the dictionary, you will not find these guys.
On this day in 1781 British General Charles Cornwallis formally surrenders his army at Yorktown, Virginia. He made the calculated error of putting his army on a peninsula in hopes of being evacuated by the British navy. When the French were able to gain control of the Chesapeake Bay, Cornwallis was trapped. After besieging the British, an attack was made by a contingent of French and American soldiers to capture the defenses around the British encampments. Alexander Hamilton was able to successfully lead his group of men to victory while the French did likewise. Cornwallis saw his situation was hopeless without its defenses and surrendered.