Hiroshi Yamauchi: 1927 – 2013

by on September 19, 2013

Some sombre news today, as it has been announced that Nintendo of Japan’s former president Hiroshi Yamauchi, has died. He was 85.

As reported by Japanese business news site Nikkei (via Kotaku), the man who ran Nintendo from 1949 to 2002 passed away in a Kyoto hospital, from pneumonia. He was President of the Japanese company for a whopping 53 years, taking them from a manufacturer of playing cards, to a toy maker, to the driving force of videogames – Making him worth more than $2billion in the process. Although he retired as President in 2002, he stayed on until 2005 as chairman to the board of directors; before retaining a 10% share in the company when he fully retired.

He oversaw a huge number of important milestones in gaming history; from the Game & Watch series of handhelds, to Shigeru Miyamoto’s Donkey Kong, to the massive success of the Famicom (NES) and beyond. A ruthless businessman at times, his aggressive approach to business earned Nintendo a great deal of success, putting them at the top of the industry for many, many years. Even before Nintendo delved into electronics, Yamauchi successfully brought over the Western playing card to the Japanese market.

He is survived by his wife and three children.

Clearly, without Yamauchi’s influence, the gaming industry would be a very different beast indeed. No matter where your gaming allegiances lie, we owe so much to this man.

Rest in Peace.