Former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, 1927-2013 ⊟

Yamauchi took over his grandfather’s hanafuda card company at the age of 22, driving its transformation into a thriving toy maker and then a video game powerhouse. During those transitions, he fostered inimitable talents at Nintendo like Game Boy creator Gunpei Yokoi, famed designer Shigeru Miyamoto, and the firm’s current president Satoru Iwata. 

Just as important, he instilled principles in the company that endure there today a decade after his retirement, emphasizing compelling software over powerful hardware, and pushing his employees to create unique experiences.

“What did Hiroshi Yamauchi care about? He couldn’t stand making the same kind of toy the other guy was making, so whatever you showed him, you knew he was going to ask, ‘How is this different from what everybody else is doing?’ The worst way to answer was to tell him, 'It’s not different, it’s just a little better.’ He’d be furious. He was very clear on just how foolish that attitude was for a toy company.”

- Iwata (excerpt from Osamu Onoue's Nintendo Magic; image via Bagemu)

Yamauchi passed away today due to complications from pneumonia, just a year after his wife Michiko died. He is survived by his two daughters, Yoko and Fujiko, and his son Katsuhito.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man that made Nintendo what it is today, passes away

Nintendo as you probably know wasn’t always in the video game business. Yamauchi diversified Nintendo’s manufacturing base to include more than just hanafuda cards. He introduced toys, electronics, and ultimately video games turning Nintendo into a billion dollar enterprise. 

He hired Gunpei Yokoi who approached him when he was only a janitor with his ideas for new products. Yokoi would then go on to develop the Game and Watch, the Gameboy, and produce classics like Metroid and Kid Icarus. He also hired Shigeru Miyamoto, who came up with, well, everything else. 

This much is certain: without Yamauchi, the Nintendo you know of would not be around today. He left behind a massive legacy as a titan of industry. And among fans like myself, he will certainly be missed. [❤]

Hiroshi Yamauchi Passes Away

November 7, 1927 – September 19, 2013

Hiroshi Yamauchi took Nintendo, a small card-making company, and attempted to expanded the brand in various markets. Yamauchi found little success until the company began focusing on the toy market. 

As the company began incorporating electronics into their product line- Yamauchi turned to one of their early artists, Shigeru Miyamoto, to create a game to break into the US market. That game resulted in the original Donkey Kong. 

With that breakout hit, Nintendo continued their focus on electronic gaming and grew under Yamauchi’s guidance. Under his presidency of the company Nintendo released the NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, Gameboy, and Virtual Boy. Resulting multi-billion dollar video game company with a vast array of characters and franchises known throughout the world today. 

(NY Times Article)


Hiroshi Yamauchi, November 7, 1927 - September 19, 2013

Hiroshi Yamauchi was the former president of Nintendo and was the man responsible for the many Nintendo consoles we’ve grown up with. He set the company in the direction it continues to follow to this day, a video game company. He, with help of others such as Miyamoto, revolutionized the world of gaming with the many familiar faces the world knows and loves. Games that make us smile, games that tell stories that we never forget, games that teach us to be brave in the face of danger, or to never give up even when the challenge seems impossible. Games that continue to live on in revolutionary new forms in the consoles we play today! This man made history turning what was once a simple card company, into the world’s most famous video game company. We will never forget you and the wonderful childhoods you’ve help us have, so here’s to you, Yamauchi. May you forever rest in peace.

~Leave luck to heaven…

Hiroshi Yamauchi, former president of Nintendo and the man credited with transforming Nintendo from a trading card manufacturer to the video game power house it is today, has passed away at the age of 85. Mr. Yamauchi ran the company from 1949 to 2002 and spearheaded the movement that brought us such memorable games as Donkey Kong, Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Starfox. R.I.P. Mr. Yamauchi. You will be missed.

Former Nintendo leader Hiroshi Yamauchi dies at 85

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man who transformed Nintendo from a playing-card maker to a video game giant and led the company for 53 years, has died. He was 85.

Kyoto-based Nintendo said Yamauchi died Thursday of pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan.

Nintendo was founded in 1889 as a traditional playing card maker. Under Yamauchi’s leadership from 1949 to 2002, the company created household name products such as the Wii and Wii U gaming consoles, Game Boy portable systems and the Super Mario and Pokémon franchises.

Read more at Al Jazeera America

Photo: Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former president of Nintendo of Japan and one of the guys responsible for shaping a huge part of my childhood passed away today. I never met the guy. I don’t know the guy. He inadvertently gave me a gift and played a role in sculpting what I am, though, and the least I could do was express some kind of sentiment through a crummy comic.


Fallece Hiroshi Yamauchi, ex presidente de Nintendo que llevó al éxito a la compañía.

Convirtió a Nintendo, una empresa que fabricaba barajas de cartas, en un gigante de los videojuegos, entregando clásicos que acompañaron la infancia de millones. Se mantuvo a la cabeza de la compañía hasta 2002. Falleció este jueves de neumonía a los 85 años.


Nikkei is reporting that the longest running president of Nintendo Co. Ltd. (1949-2002) has died today of pneumonia. He was 85 years old.

Hiroshi Yamauchi is the man behind Nintendo’s diversification away from being just a traditional card maker. Businesses such as a taxi company, love hotels and even fast food didn’t fare well almost bankrupting the company until Yamauchi spotted the talented Gunpei Yokoi and his toy inventions.These were a great success for the company and following the emergence of electronics in home entertainment products, which Yamauchi was keeping a keen eye on, the eventual development of the successful Color TV Game 6, arcade games such as Radar Scope and Donkey Kong as well as the Game & Watch series put Nintendo on the road to where we find it today.

Yamauchi stepped down as president in 2002 following the launch of Nintendo Gamecube. He became chairman of the board of directors until 2005. He refused to accept his pension, valued at approximately 9-14 million US dollars, when he left saying that Nintendo could put the money to better use. He was the largest shareholder of Nintendo and was crowned the 12th richest man in Japan and donated 7.5 billion yen to build a cancer treatment centre in Kyoto in 2010.

Yamauchi leaves behind a wife and three children.

Obit of the Day: From Cards to Consoles

When Hiroshi Yamauchi took over his grandfather’s company in 1949 it was the Nintendo Playing Card Co. Founded in 1889, the company made a popular Japanese card game as well as traditional playing card decks. (The company still makes cards in Japan and hosts an annual bridge tournament.)

But Mr. Yamauchi had a bigger vision for the company. He tried expanding into various industries including food, taxis, and hotels before settling on toys in 1966. The first toy produced by Nintendo was “Ultra Hand” which could reach out and grab things. 

Random note: Gunpei Yokoi, the creator of Ultra Hand, would later design Nintendo’s Game Boy.

Beginning in 1974, Nintendo first tried out the electronic gaming market as the Japanese dealer of the Magnavox Odyssey game console. Three years later they introduced their own home gaming console, “Color TV Game”. 

Nintendo was also developing arcade games. They began in 1973 but it would take 8 years for the company to manufacture its first hit -  Donkey Kong - which premiered in 1981. Nintendo continued to produce international arcade hits including Donkey Kong, Jr., Popeye, Mario Bros., and Punch-Out.

But everything changed in 1985 when Nintendo launched the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), known as Famicom (“Family Computer”) in Japan. The system, which came with a copy of Super Mario Bros - one of the best-selling games of all time and the basis for myriad spin-off games - helped rejuvenate a video game industry that was struggling. Four years later they made games portable with the introduction of the Game Boy.

Under Mr. Yamauchi the company also created a roster of characters that   are known to gamers and non-gamers alike including Mario, Luigi, Link, Zelda, Metroid, and Kirby.

In 1992, Mr. Yamauchi expanded his personal interests by buying the Seattle Mariners baseball franchise. Although not a fan of baseball, Mr. Yamauchi became the first Japanese owner in Major League Baseball history - and like Nintendo, the Mariners experienced a golden age. While he was owner the Mariners made it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and in 2001 won an MLB record 116 regular season games. He sold the team to Nintendo USA in 2005.

Mr. Yamauchi would retire in 2002 when Nintendo earned a record $1.3 billion in profits. Upon leaving the company he turned down his $11 million “allowance” and asked that it be put back into the company. As of 2013 Mr. Yamauchi was still listed as the 12th richest man in Japan.

Hiroshi Yamauchi died on September 19, 2013 at the age of 85.

Sources: The Verge, Time, Forbes, Wikipedia, and Baseball-Reference.com

(Image was created by Dave Jarbo and courtesy of www.fanpop.com)

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