Though Nintendo is almost synonymous with videogames now, it hasn’t always been a videogame company. Its origins are wildly different from where it is now. Here we have made a brief summary of the company’s history.
The company was founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, who made hand painted cards (Fun fact: Nintendo literally means “leave luck to heaven”) The company blew up and he ended up hiring workers to get the job done.
After he grew old, he adopted his son-in-law Sekiryo Kaneda, and made him the owner of the company (which is quite common in Japan and not as weird as it sounds). In 1933, the company was renamed “Yamauchi NIntendo & Co”. Then the company was handed over to Sekiryo’s grandson Hiroshi Yamouchi as he did not have any sons either.
The partnership with Disney
Hiroshi Yamauchi renamed the company to “Nintendo Karuta” in 1953 and mass produced the cards using plastic, making it the first company to do so in Japan. When he came to visit the US to observe how the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), the biggest card manufacturer in the world, was working he was shocked to find how small the office was. That’s when he realised the fact that card companies will soon go out of business.
To avoid going out of business, Nintendo struck up a deal with Disney to use their characters in their cards, this was beneficial to Disney as well because Japanese people were averse of western figures at that point and by selling these cards, Disney would be able to widen its market as well. The company even tried setting up fast food restaurants and toy making. Despite all these measures, the value of the cards fell to 60 yen from 900 yen with the economic boom in 1964.
The Gunpei Yokoi Revolution
Though the card business fell drastically, their toy business was quite decent. During the christmas season of 1966, due to the hectic schedule, one of the maintenance engineers, Yokoi, created an extending arm (which would later become the “Ultra Hand” to help the workers. Seeing his creativity, Yamauchi made him the creative head.
He went on to produce many more amazing toys such as Ten Billion Barrel puzzle, Ultra Machine and Love Tester which became a huge hit in Japan and became one of the first toys produced in Japan to be sold all over the world.
Transition to a video
In 1972, the company released its first video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey. It was a huge hit. And the rest is history.
We hope you found this inspiring!