I just might have been one of only a handful of American teenagers who bought Now That's What I Call Music back when it was first released around Christmas 1983. (I also bought another import around the same time, Formula 30, a compilation of British rock classics from the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties.) Both of these seemed to be direct descendants of my beloved K-Tel collections (which were getting few and far between at the time), with more than a few of my favorite songs as well as a few I've never heard of because it was an import from the UK.
In its original form, the very first Now That's What I Call Music was a double disc vinyl set featuring songs that had reached the upper spots on the British charts - eleven of the thirty tracks made it all the way to #1. Starting with Now That's What I Call Music 10 in November 1987, the compilations were released as double CD sets - before that they were strictly vinyl and cassette releases. It would be another 11 years before the domestic version of the series appeared on store shelves in the United States in 1998.
In the United Kingdom, you can now(!) buy Now That's What I Call Music! 82, which features an even dozen British #1 songs. Next year will be the 30th Anniversary of the series and you know what? HERC continues to acquire them, both import and domestic. If you're curious, Now That's What I Call Music! 43 will be unleashed in America the first week of August featuring more than a few of the same tracks that are on Now 82.
After years of a red, blue and green Now logo, the exclamation point first appeared on the 18th volume in 1990 after the word "Now" - for volume 20 (1991), it was moved to the end of the title phrase, after the word "Music" where it's been ever since. Along the way, there have been many, many Now! special editions including multiple sets dedicated to Christmas music; 10th Anniversary and Millennium series with each volume dedicated to a specific year; and genres such as Dance, Love, Reggae, Chill and Disney among others.
And NOW! a playlist! or (EIGHTY-)TWO!