Cathodic arc plasma deposition has become the technology of choice for hard, wear and corrosion resistant coatings for a variety of applications. The history, basic physics of cathodic arc operation, the infamous macroparticle problem and common filter solutions, and emerging high-tech applications are briefly reviewed. Cathodic arc plasmas stand out due to their high degree of ionization, with important consequences for film nucleation, growth, and efficient utilization of substrate bias. Industrial processes often use cathodic arc plasma in reactive mode. In contrast, the science of arcs has focused on the case of vacuum arcs. Future research directions include closing the knowledge gap for reactive mode, large area coating, linear sources and filters, metal plasma immersion process, with application in high-tech and biomedical fields.