Nintendo Innovator Hiroshi Yamauchi Passed This Morning
Well, that stinks.
Sad day for nostalgic console gamers — Hiroshi Yamauchi, who ran Nintendo for more than 50 years and oversaw its development into a full fledged video game superpower, has died of pneumonia at the age of 85.
As most gaming nerds know, Nintendo was originally a company that produced card games in Japan, and has been in existence since 1889. Yamauchi was responsible first for introducing Western card games to Japan through Nintendo when he first took control of the company in 1949, and immersed the company in the electronic age in the ’80s and ’90s with the introduction of the NES, SNES, Gameboy, Nintendo 64, and Gamecube. He also first hired Shigeru Miyamoto, who is the designer behind many of Nintendo’s now-classic franchises — Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, and Kirby. Though he stepped down from leadership in 2002, he still remained an advisor to the company until today.
In addition to his role at Nintendo, Yamauchi also owned the Seattle Mariners for a time, which we are told is a sportsball team. His acquiring of the team marked the first foreign ownership of an American baseball team (okay yes, we do know what baseball is) in the major leagues.
At the time of his death, Yamauchi was the 12th richest person in Japan and the 491th richest in the world. While he may not have been as big a name in pop culture lore as Myamoto, Nintendo — or even the modern console game itself — wouldn’t exist in its current form without him. He will certainly be missed.