Industry Legend Hiroshi Yamauchi Dies, Aged 85

Known for his controversial decisions and an iron will to match, Hiroshi Yamauchi is responsible for Nintendo’s growth from a simple card company into a video game empire.

After radical success with the portable Game and Watch series, Mr. Yamauchi took a chance and assigned hardware designer Gunpei Yokoi to mentor a plucky young concept artist named Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto was assigned a project to bolster Nintendo’s new arcade line-up, which later became Donkey Kong.

Mr. Yamauchi ran Nintendo from 1949 until 2002, at which point he stepped down as president of the company, with current leader Satoru Iwata assuming the role. Even in his twilight years, Yamauchi remained Nintendo’s largest shareholder, and was the richest man in Japan until recently.

Yamauchi was considered a ruthless businessmen who held many grudges and infamously disliked playing video games, though he maintained that the quality of software was infinitely more important than the hardware it was designed for, a mantra that Nintendo follows to this day.

Regardless, many in the industry are mourning his passing today; through the advent of structured third-party licencing (Nintendo’s “Seal of Quality”), along with the introduction of the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System, Hiroshi Yamauchi almost single-handedly rebuilt the industry after the North American market crash of 1983.

Mr. Yamauchi reportedly died of pneumonia. On the matter of his passing, Nintendo issued the following statement to the press: “Nintendo is in mourning today from the sad loss of the former Nintendo president Mr Hiroshi Yamauchi, who sadly passed away this morning.”


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