Hiroshi Yamauchi, longtime Nintendo president died today at the age of 85.
He was the president of Nintendo for 53 years, and later became chairman.
He’s credited with transforming Nintendo into a videogame company. It began as a trading card company in 1889 and seemed to have no real direction through the years. Eventually, Yamauchi saw the entertainment value of videogames and decided that the company should move into the game business.
He’s also responsible for hiring Gunpei Yokoi, creator of the Game Boy and Shigeru Miyamoto, who’s responsible for Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and several other popular videogame franchises.
Nintendo helped turn handheld gaming into a popular pastime, and through doing so probably helped create the interest in handheld games that would later make games on devices like the iPhone so popular. Many of today’s developers grew up on Nintendo consoles and handhelds.
Yamauchi died in a hospital in central Japan with pneumonia.