Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo Visionary, Dies at 85


Hiroshi Yamauchi, visionary executive and former President of Nintendo, has died, due to complications with pneumonia. At the age of 85, Yamauchi is credited with bringing Nintendo into the modern age, overseeing development of the Famicom and NES after the video game crash of 1983.

Yamauchi became president of the company in 1949, when hanafuda and other playing cards were their primary form of business. The company moved into toy, and eventually video game, manufacture after the young executive took over, increasing their line of product and expanding Nintendo internationally. This growth established Nintendo worldwide, allowing them to get product far outside of Japan.


The Famicom, Japan’s NES.



The decisions made by Yamauchi are still being felt today; from allowing the company to move into gaming, to taking a chance and hiring the now famous Shigeru Miyamoto. His philosophies carried Nintendo into the future, focusing on making cheaper, durable hardware to make way for making the highest quality games possible. Despite criticisms made about Nintendo, the company has a tradition of thinking in the long term, making sure games are fun despite the technology which has kept many of them, like the original Super Mario Bros., relevant.

He owned the Seattle Mariners baseball team, having saved them from moving to Florida decades ago.

Despite dropping out of his university studies, Yamauchi is considered to have been one of the richest men in Japan. His loose and rough manner of speaking was refreshing in the world of Japanese business, which was typically very mechanical and exact.

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s current president, took control of the company in 2002, though Yamauchi stayed with them as an investor and advisor.

While Yamauchi may not be a household name, his decisions have been the foundation of what people know as Nintendo. Video games would certainly be very different without his influence.