Nintendo’s Hiroshi Yamauchi, Console Gaming Pioneer, Dies

Businessman turned card company into an entertainment behemoth

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Former Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi in 1999

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Japanese businessman who transformed Nintendo from a playing cards company into a video game giant, has died at the age of 85.

Yamauchi became Nintendo’s president in 1949. He began to pioneer console gaming in the late 1970s, becoming personally involved in the design of many games. However, the company did not have an international hit until it took up designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s Donkey Kong (1981), which earned Nintendo a global reputation.

Yamauchi relinquished all posts in Nintendo by 2005 but remained its largest shareholder and one of Japan’s wealthiest men, with a fortune estimated at over $2 billion.


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My grand children spend most of the leisure time in video games and watching cartoons. Hiroshi Yamauchi was the person most responsible for bringing gaming into mainstream culture. He shepherded the Nintendo company when it was a small business selling playing cards, and, through ingenious marketing, turned hobbyist idols like Zelda, Mario, and a swath of others, into cultural touchstones.