Nintendo Chairman Leaves Long Lasting Legacy

Microsoft and Sony owe a lot to Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former CEO and largest shareholder  of Nintendo, who passed away aged 85 on Friday. Without Yamauchi, it is arguable that there might not be a PlayStation or Xbox console as the canny Japanese businessman was largely responsible for the popularity of electronic gaming that swept the world in the early 1980s. 

By Mike Wheeler

Microsoft and Sony owe a lot to Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former CEO and largest shareholder  of Nintendo, who passed away aged 85 on Friday.

Without Yamauchi, it is arguable that there might not be a PlayStation or Xbox console as the canny Japanese businessman was largely responsible for the popularity of electronic gaming that swept the world in the early 1980s. At the forefront was Nintendo’s Donkey Kong arcade game, which it introduced in 1981, followed by consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Nintendo DS, DSi and 3DS, as well as the Wii and Wii U.

From the very beginning Inheriting Ninetendo as a card manufacturer from his grandfather in 1949 at the young age of 22, Yamauchi was cut throat in his corporate dealings, demanding that his grandfather fire one of his other grandsons – Yamauchi’s cousin – from the company or he would not take it over.

Yamauchi readily admitted that he rarely played games, and found it hard to understand the inner mechanisms that made them work. What he did do though, was set up several divisions within the company that competed against each other, his thinking being that this rivalry would cause innovations to escalate, which they did. What he would make of the company's current struggles is not hard to guess as sales of both its portable and Wii consoles take on the smartphone/tablet gaming revolution.

He retired as president of the company in 2002 and handed over the running of the company to Satoru Iwata, but remained Chairman of the board until 2005. He died after a bout of pneumonia.

 

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