Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former Nintendo president that ran the company during its transition from a playing card company to one of the world’s largest game developers, passed away due to pneumonia this morning. He was 85.
Yamauchi began his career at Nintendo in 1949 when he was asked by his grandfather, then president of Nintendo, to take over for him. Under his leadership, Nintendo became one of the most successful playing card companies in Japan.
After more than two decades of working in traditional games, Yamauchi decreed that Nintendo would start working in the newly emerging market of electronic games. The company made a few arcade games, but it wasn’t until 1981’s Donkey Kong that Nintendo had a certifiable worldwide hit.
After this, he spearheaded the creation of the Famicom, or Nintendo Entertainment System. During this time, he personally approved all in-house developed games for release. His keen sense of what was fun helped propel Nintendo-made games into the legendary status they hold to this day.
Yamauchi continued to be the driving force behind Nintendo’s hardware, including the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube, until he retired in 2002. At that time, he became chairman of Nintendo’s board of directors. Satoru Iwata took his place and became the first person outside of the Yamauchi family to be president of Nintendo since its founding.
At the time of his death, Yamauchi was the second-largest shareholder of Nintendo, and was estimated to be the 12th richest man in Japan.[Image: honsoral/YouTube] [h/t: BBC]