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You've almost certainly never heard of Billy Mitchell. Mitchell's claim to fame is that he was the first person to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man.

It took almost twenty years [Pac-Man came to the U.S. in 1980], but on July 3, 1999 for the first time ever, a perfect score of 3,333,360 was achieved on Pac-Man by Billy Mitchell at the Funspot Family Fun Center, Weirs Beach, New Hampshire. To achieve this, Billy had to eat every single bonus prize and every possible blue ghost in all 256 levels of the game - a feat which took him over six hours to complete. Not only that but he didn't lose a single life. It was the first ever perfect game of Pac-Man.

On completing the game, Billy announced "I never have to play that darn game again".

Now, on to Ms. Pacman. Seriously.


Billy Mitchell on that fateful day in 1999.

[Billy Mitchell:] I understand the behavior of the ghosts and am able to manipulate the ghosts into any corner of the board I choose. This allows me to clear the screen with no patterns. This was a more difficult method for the initial 18 screens. I chose to do it this way because I wanted to demonstrate the depths of my abilities. I wanted to raise the bar higher - to a level that no one else could match.

I suppose that being the best in the world at almost anything requires talent and a certain single-mindedness. And he has the respect of his peers:

Imagine a world in which Billy Mitchell never encountered Pac-Man. Put to good use his sharp mind, excellent hand-eye coordination, incredibly long attention span and his prodigious talent for problem-solving probably would have led the world into a utopian technological society by now. The human genome would have been mapped by the mid eighties. World poverty would have been eliminated entirely. The air and the earth would be clean. We'd be living in an age of unprecedented peace. Serbs and Kosovars would be frolicking hand in hand cracking jokes about their ethnic differences. Billy Mitchell would have a girlfriend. Instead, Billy Mitchell played Pac-Man and grew a moustache.

[This diss brought to you by the guys who write and host the Pac-Man Lunar Society website. In other news I think that Phil is WAAAY too excited about the future. Geez, get a life man.]

Tiger Woods is never criticised like this. His game pays a bit better, but in the grand scheme of things, does Tiger's obsession put us any closer to a utopian technological society than Billy Mitchell's? That's right, it does not.

So, in honor of all the people who, like Billy Mitchell, are great in obscure ways, click here and play a game of Pac-Man. And let us know if you get a perfect score.

By the way, it would appear that Billy Mitchell is not "Slac-Man." He owns and operates a chain of restaurants.


Well, a least I haven't grown a moustache.

For whatever reason- some tasks are compelling to the human mind, some are less so or even not at all.

I greatly admire the level of concentration and focus required to achieve this kind of expertise. Certainly, I rarely have mastered anything so thoroughly. Further, I suspect it is indicative of the kind of focus Mr. MItchell brings to other endeavours.

That said- I'm not sure undergrads aspiring to the Ivy League or other ultra competitive schools would be well served by listing this as an extracurricular. Somehow, more physically demanding tasks (sport, dance) and the traditional arts are more highly prized.

I would be interested to know if he ever played again and if so why.

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