It’s a sad day in the video game industry. Hiroshi Yamauchi, former president of Nintendo, has passed away at the age of 85. Yamauchi helped turn Nintendo into a video game powerhouse, and was once even the majority shareholder of the Seattle Mariners.
Yamauchi joined Nintendo in 1949, after his grandfather (then president of the company) suffered a stroke. During that time, Nintendo was still making handmade playing cards. Yamauchi helped to expand Nintendo’s portfolio to include electronic entertainment, a move that led to forays into the arcades and eventually the home video game market.
Aided by future industry greats such as video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto (who joined the company in 1977) and game hardware designer Masayuki Uemura, Yamauchi oversaw the production of several Nintendo systems, among them the Color TV Game series, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Gamecube, and the grandest of them all, the Nintendo Famicom, known elsewhere as the Nintendo Entertainment System.
It was during Yamauchi’s run that the industry received the legendary characters, games, and systems that we know today. Characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong, and Link all debuted in games and for Nintendo game systems while Yamuchi was president.
In 2002, Yamauchi stepped down as president and was succeeded by Nintendo’s Head of Corporate Planning Division Satoru Iwata. Yamauchi joined the company’s board of directors as chairman, a position he held until 2005. He was one of the richest men in both Japan and the world, with an estimated worth of $2.1 billion as of April of 2013.
Mr. Yamauchi is survived by his three children.