In its modern form, bungee jumping can trace its origins back to the aptly named Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club, who perfected the art in Somerset, England, in 1979. Bungee didn’t reach Iceland until 13 years later, in 1992, when Tómas ‘Tommi’ Tómasson jumped from a large crane parked outside of the Kringlan shopping mall.
Celebrating the 5 year anniversary of his restaurant Hard Rock Café Reykjavik, Tommi had decided to mark the occasion by being the first in Iceland to make a jump, having been inspired by the bungee jumping he had previously seen on his travels in Florida.
In the summer of 1992, he found a group of specialists about to set up their own bungee jump, on home soil in Iceland, and realised the opportunity was simply too fortuitous to miss. He insisted that they reschedule their own jump to a few days early, as well as relocate the event to outside of Kringlan shopping mall.
What’s more, Tommi offered himself up as the first to take the leap of faith.
The event had been advertised previously, and with 10,000 people in attendance, Tommi found himself nervous but committed. A local band played The Rolling Stones’ Start me up from the parking lot below, only adding further intensity to the situation. With nothing left but to take that daring step into nothingness, Tommi closed his eyes and allowed himself to be pushed from the crane platform.
The jump was a resounding success. Furthermore, it had caught the eye of one particularly influential man in the crowd. This man would go on to be the second man in Iceland ever to bungee jump. His name was Steve Wozniak, the electronic and engineering mastermind of Apple fame.
Being an enormous Hard Rock Café fan, Wozniak was on a journey to visit as many of the franchises’ outlets around the world. Be it fate, or destiny, Wozniak just happened to have been visiting Iceland’s branch on that fateful day.
After Tommi’s jump, Steve insisted that he had always wanted to give bungee jumping a try, and so was allowed the second jump. The following Christmas, Tommi received a $5000 Mac in the post as a thank you.
The rest, as they say, is history, though no doubt a lot has changed for both men since. For instance, Tómasson didn’t run Hard Rock for long, as he sold it only a few years later and went on to start the burger dynasty that is Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar (“Tommi’s Burger Joint”) which now operates 18 burger joints in six countries. If you’re in Reykjavík, why not pay a visit to Tommi’s Burger Joint, found at Old Harbour?