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Former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi dies aged 85

Iwata's predecessor transformed card company into global giant

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the third president of Nintendo and the predecessor to Satoru Iwata has died today aged 85, the Nikkei reports.

Yamauchi took over the presidency of the company in 1949 from his dying grandfather. He immediately began the campaign of far-reaching and, at times, authoritarian reform which metamorphosed Nintendo from a small playing card producer into a world-wide entertainment giant. Yamauchi retained the presidency until May 31, 2002 when he ceded the position to Iwata.

Utilising the talents of luminaries such as Gunpei Yokoi and Shigeru Miyamotu, Yamauchi moved Nintendo first into the market of electronic toys before embarking upon the Game and Watch project which would pave the road towards the company's future.

Having cornered a market in Japan, Yamauchi soon expanded to America, exploiting a growing market which had little domestic input. Before long he had overseen the manufacture of the first Famicom or NES, going on to preside over the launches of the SNES, N64 and Gamecube.

Details of Yamauchi's death have not been made public, but Nintendo has confirmed the sad news to Japanese media.

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Latest comments (19)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
An utterly amazing man.
A brave, intelligent, creative entrepreneur.
One of the very few people who truly shaped our industry.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
I've said for years that Nintendo would hold fast as long as Yamauchi was alive. Once an appropriate mourning period has passed, we very well may see Nintendo start to take the necessary steps to ensure they have a long-term future like getting out of the console business, or even merging with Apple. Internally politically this was impossible before. We can argue whether those two actions will happen till we're blue in the face, but I don't think anyone is going to argue that Yamauchi's shadow no longer watching everything that goes on will give Nintendo more freedom from the Japanese side to chart a new course
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James Fry Test Lead, Microsoft Studios8 years ago
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Show all comments (19)
Francisco Javier QA Engineering & Coordination, Saber Interactive Spain8 years ago
Many of us who are now in the industry, are in debt with this man. This is not only a Legend, it's one of the fathers of this industry, who really found a way to keep this industry going forward. His last participation in the company was the idea of the Nintendo DS. no less, no more...

Rest in peace Yamauchi-Kun!,
ご冥福を祈ります。 どうもありがとうございます
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Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd8 years ago
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
His contributions and legacy to this industry are incalculable. He will be missed but not forgotten.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 8 years ago
RIP. :(
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
This is sad news... I second Bruces comments...
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Directly and indirectly this man has probably had the biggest impact in my career choice and love of games. Rest in peace...
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
Oddly enough, some people aren't giving Yamauchi the respect he deserves, and that's a damn shame. I saw a fb post calling him an a**hole(!!!) and not joking about it. I hate the internet sometimes, as you have to sift through a mountain of shit whenever there's a passing of some importance.

Anyway, I'm going to break out the Game Boy Color later and play a bit of whatever I yank off the shelf here. Or the DS, as I use it a lot more (and have a few dozen more titles for it) and I think I have no spare AA batteries at home (oops!).

Nintendo will, of course, go on (and NOT merge with Apple as I've been seeing here and elsewhere - that company has its own style and issues I'm sure Nintendo does not want to deal with.)
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John Arnold Video Production 8 years ago
I remember all the commotion when Steve Jobs died, but while he had a lot of great ideas; honestly he has never revolutionised the gaming industry as impressively as Yamauchi has. I'm sick and tired of Apple and Google pathetically claiming to have created and innovated everything. I'm tired of narrow minded people praising those companies with such overrated standards and I don't intend to make any generalisations.

This is a true innovator. Some people may only praise what's rubbing them right in the face, but never ever will Apple ever have that touch of spark this incredible man had. It's complete and utter criminal how no one can recognise talent that doesn't pose itself in your face. I think anyone who can't recognise this man's great talent is a cancer to this planet and I know that might sound extreme, but I have true and deep respect for people like him.

I will be very annoyed if this amazing innovator does not make any newspaper headlines in any countries where english is spoken.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Arnold on 19th September 2013 7:59pm

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Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online8 years ago
What a legend. Just imagine: being thrown into cold water of leading the company at 21 - and then steering it successfully through many changes for over five decades. Lots of respect.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games8 years ago
There are no words to describe the loss for gaming.
His successor is honest and tries hard! But some shoes are simply impossible to fill in!
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
@ John
I will be very annoyed if this amazing innovator does not make any newspaper headlines in any countries where english is spoken.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, the company said.
And a sad day indeed.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 19th September 2013 10:22pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
The news radio here in NYC even mentioned his passing, which was nice because even thought it was a short piece, it was nicely written.
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Nuttachai Tipprasert Programmer 8 years ago
After only one year of "The Great Video Game Crashes" on the west, this man had single handedly transformed video game into multi-billoin dollars business. Whether you like him or his company or not, it doesn't matter. He still be a legend and deserves all those praises and credits for everything he had done for our industry.
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Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent8 years ago
Sad face.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
A man who largely created (or had the vision to hire the people who created) the modern gaming industry. Video games would not have developed down the same path without him, and those of us who are fans of this industry all owe him respect.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 8 years ago
If Yamauchi hadn't resurrected the video games industry after the 83 crash we would today be incalculably behind. The modern games industry of producing a platform and luring and licensing 3rd parties (instead of litigating them) should be considered the Nintendo way.

This is Yamauchis industry, we are all just caretakers of it now.
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