5 Interesting Facts About the Late Hiroshi Yamauchi, President of Nintendo

Image Credit: Nintendolife.com
We have lost a visionary of the tech and gaming world. Hiroshi Yamauchi was 85 years old when he passed away on September 19th, 2013. By our estimates, that means each year of his life was worth almost thirty million dollars, because Yamauchi managed to amass assets worth around $2.5 billion dollars. But we’re not even jealous, as most of that wealth came from his able direction of the Nintendo Co., which essentially makes Yamauchi’s passing like a death in the family.

5 Before Yamauchi, Nintendo Made Playing Cards

Did you know the Nintendo Co. was founded over a hundred and twenty years ago? Back in 1889, at its establishment, the company was called Nintendo Koppai and it produced paper playing cards. It was not until the 1960s that the company moved into electronics. Before that crucial shift in focus, the company had also operated hotels and even a taxi cab service, but Yamauchi saw the coming boom times in electronic entertainment, specifically items designed for youngsters.

4 Yamauchi Became the President of Nintendo in His Early 20s

The more than 50-year run Hiroshi Yamauchi had as the head of Nintendo began before his 23rd birthday. After suffering a stroke, Yamauchi’s grandfather Fusajiro Yamauchi, the second man to run the company, turned to his ambitious young grandson. The college-aged youth took over the reins with vigor and, initially, with cold-minded determination. He fired many veteran employees who questioned his authority and assumed near total control of the process of approving new products for development. Fortunately for the company and the wider world, he had excellent instincts.

3 It All Started With Donkey Kong (Even Mario)

Before the development and release of the Donkey Kong games, Nintendo was an electronics company largely focused on toys. After Donkey Kong, they were a video game giant. When first released in 1981, the game was licensed to multiple other extant gaming platforms, such as the Commodore and the Atari 8-bit. Donkey Kong spurred Yamauchi to focus his company not only on games, but on gaming systems. The vaunted NES was only two years in the offing, and with it a character known as “Jump Man” in the Donkey Kong games would soon be rechristened as “Mario.”

2 Yamauchi Owned a Significant Portion of a Baseball Team He Never Saw

In 1992, Yamauchi purchased a huge percentage of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. He was barred by the league from owning more than 50% of the club, but he still became majority owner. His purchase stopped a potential Mariner relocation to Florida, and is also credited with opening American MLB to Japanese players, today a force to be reckoned with. But Yamauchi, who hated travel, never once saw the Mariners play in all the twenty-plus years he was an owner of the team!

1 Yamauchi Saw the Art in Games

Hiroshi Yamauchi was an ardent believer that great video games were designed by great artists, not skilled programmers. He wanted Nintendo games to be more about story and character than mere graphics engineering. It was this philosophy that saw franchises such as “Zelda” and “Final Fantasy” became worldwide sensations.



Some people owe Yamauchi for countless hours of entertainment. But the 5 Most Difficult Nintendo Games also caused countless hours of frustration.

2008 was a great year for Yamauchi and co., with four of the Top5 Highest Selling Games released on the Wii.