Recording sessions took place between April and November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California, with a production budget of $750,000, assisted by producer Quincy Jones. Jackson wrote four of Thriller's nine tracks. In just over a year, Thriller became—and remains as of 2010—the best-selling album of all time, with sales estimated by various sources as somewhere between 65 and 110 million copies worldwide, and is tied with Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) as the best-selling album in the United States. Seven of the album's nine songs were released as singles, and all reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards at the 1984 Grammys.
Thriller cemented Jackson's status as one of the prominent pop stars of the late 20th century, and enabled him to break down racial barriers via his appearances on MTV and meeting with President Ronald Reagan at the White House. The album was one of the first to use music videos as successful promotional tools—the videos for "Thriller", "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" all received regular rotation on MTV. In 2001, a special edition issue of the album was released, which contains additional audio interviews, a demo recording and the song "Someone In the Dark", which was a Grammy-winning track from the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial storybook. In 2008, the album was reissued again as Thriller 25, containing re-mixes that feature contemporary artists, a previously unreleased song and a DVD.
Thriller ranked number 20 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2003, and was listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers at number three in its Definitive 200 Albums of All Time. The Thriller video was preserved by the Library of Congress to the National Recording Registry, as it was deemed "culturally significant".