Hiroshi Yamauchi, the businessman who transformed Nintendo from a maker of Japanese trading cards into a video-game giant, died of pneumonia in a hospital in central Japan today, the company said. He was 85.
A Nintendo spokesman said the company is mourning “the loss of the former Nintendo president Mr Hiroshi Yamauchi, who sadly passed away this morning.”
“[People who play RPGs (role-playing games) are] depressed gamers who like to sit alone in their dark rooms and play slow games.”
– Hiroshi Yamauchi, in a 1999 interview
Yamauchi began to run Nintendo as its president in 1949, when he took over from his father. He remained at the helm until 2002, when he handed over leadership of the company to current president Satoru Iwata.
During Yamauchi’s 53-year tenure, the Kyoto, Japan-based company spawned hit games such as Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros, and devices such as the handheld Nintendo Game Boy console.
Yamauchi was an executive adviser to Nintendo, as well as its second-largest shareholder, at the time of his death.
Forbes Asia ranked him as Japan’s richest man in 2008.
Yamauchi is survived by his eldest son, Katsuhito Yamauchi. A funeral has been scheduled to take place on Sunday at Nintendo.
Nintendo image via Shutterstock