Hiroshi Yamauchi Passes at 85

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former president of Nintendo who was responsible for turning the company from a small-time playing card post into what it is today, has died at the age of 85 after battling pneumonia at a hospital in Japan. He held his position as president from 1949 up until 2002, and since then held an executive role in the company until he passed away. Nintendo released this statement:

“The entire Nintendo group will carry on the spirit of Mr. Yamauchi by honoring, in our approach to entertainment, the sense of value he has taught us-that there is merit in doing what is different-and at the same time, by changing Nintendo in accordance with changing times.”

Yamauchi’s most notable contributions to Nintendo included the development and launch of the Famicom (or NES) in 1983, and every console afterward up to the Gamecube. He also helped bring the Game Boy to life, which essentially set the pace for what portable gaming would eventually become.

At the peak of the Wii’s reign on the market, Yamauchi was announced as the richest man in Japan with a net worth of $7.8 billion. That steadily declined but he remained the largest shareholder in the company. He was offered a retirement pension of around $14 million but felt the money would be worth more to Nintendo’s endeavors. He had survived by his wife and three children.

Satoru Iwata is the current Global CEO of Nintendo. Despite the constant hype around Microsoft and Sony, the company remains one of the most valuable and powerful in the gaming industry, and the third largest company in Japan thanks to the Wii and DS consoles. As of June this year, it has sold over 660 million hardware units.

With the loss of a true visionary, the company will hopefully hold its ground and continue to maintain its strength in an ever-increasingly competitive industry.