Nintendo, the Japanese company we know today as the biggest producer of video games has a long history. This is a company that traces its history back to the year 1889. The company was founded to produce Hanafuda cards. The Nintendo Company Limited is a large Multinational that produces consumer electronics. It is headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. This is a company that is now the largest producer of video games based on the revenue generated. In discussing the history of this company, we shall look at the various stages of the company as a card company, as Toy Company and the history of the present day electronics games company.
Nintendo Card Company 1889-1956
Having been founded on 23rd September 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, the company was making the handmade hanafuda playing cards as its main business. However, by the year 1963, the company had already tried many other businesses such as cabs and love hotels. The word Nintendo can be translated from Japanese to English to mean “leave luck to heaven”.
When Yamauchi died in 1949, his grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi took office to become the president of Nintendo. He renamed the company from Marufuku Co. Ltd to Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. The company was the first in Japan to produce plastic playing cards in 1953.
In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi visited the United States to hold the discussion with the biggest playing card manufacturer. Having seen the state of the playing card business in the USA, Yamauchi discovered that the playing card business was big; this definitely becoming the turning point for Nintendo.
Yamauchi renamed the company from Nintendo Playing Company Ltd. To Nintendo Co., Ltd. In 1963. The company started other business ventures such as the Daiya taxi company, a love hotel chain as well as a TV network. The company also had started a food company that sold instant rice. However, all these ventures failed. The playing card sales also dropped after the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and this lead to the company’s stock price plummeting to a low level.
Nintendo, the Toy Company
After the company failed in the previous industries, it moved to the Japanese toy industry in 1966. The company produced the Ultra Hand, which was developed by the maintenance engineer, Gunpei Yokoi. Yokoi was eventually moved from the maintenance department to the Nintendo Games department as a developer.
The company continued with the toys venture, producing toys such as the Kousenjuu, the light gun games, the Ultra Machine and the Love Tester. The company fell behind the production of toys and was overtaken by companies such as Tomy and Bandai. This made the company shift focus in 1973 to family entertainment. the Laser Clay Shooting system of the light gun technology was adapted in 1973. the company developed much more light gun machines and this was well received by the developing arcade scene. Even though the Laser Clay Shooting system had to be shut due to costs, the company had eventually found a new market.
Early Electronic Era Period 1974–1978
The company first focused on the video game industry through the distribution of the Magnavox Odyssey console in 1974. The company, in 1977 started to produce its own hardware with the Colour TV home video consoles. 4 version of these consoles were produced by the company.
In 1975, the shifted its focus into the video arcade industry. The EVR Race was the first video arcade game and it was designed by Genyo Takeda. The company had some little success with this venture. Well, the release of the Donkey Kong is what changed the company’s fortunes dramatically. The success of this game and the various licensing opportunities gave the company huge success and boost in profits. The game introduced the iteration of the eventual company mascot, Mario.
Success with the Video Games
Gunpei Yokoi came up with the idea of a handheld video game. In 1980, the company launched Game& Watch, a handheld video game series that was developed by Yokoi.
The modern D-Pad was designed by Yokoi in 1982 for the Donkey Kong. This design was then patented by the company.
The company launched the Family Computer as a video game console in Japan in 1983. In 1985, the international version of the console was launched as Nintendo Entertainment System in North America. This console helps sell the Super Mario Bros. as one of the best-selling video games.
In 1989, Nintendo releases the Game Boy in Japan and North America. The third party game Tetris is bundled with Game Boy and this becomes an instant success.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment, a superior console is released in North America in 1991and 1992 in Europe. A console war ensues between Nintendo and Sega and 1992, Nintendo opens shops in the United States for consumers who would test and buy the consoles.
In 1995, Nintendo announces that it sold over 1 Billion game cartridges all over the world. The company announces the production of the Project Reality, now the Ultra 64 which uses the cartridges as the media format.
The Nintendo developer Gunpei Yokoi dies as a result of a car crash. The company releases the SNS 101.
In 2001, the company introduces the Game Boy Advance. The company president Yamauchi retires in 2002. He is succeeded by Satoru Iwata as the company’s 4th president. He was the first president who was not related to the Yamauchi either by marriage or blood since the company was founded in 1889.
The Game Boy Advance is released in 2003. This is the 4th handheld device console system.
Nintendo DS is released in 2004.
The Game Boy Micro is released in 2005 in the USA.
The Nintendo World Store is opened in New York in the year 2005. This store would sell Nintendo products and act as a museum of Nintendo history.
In 2006, the Wii is released. It is a big success for the company as a console. With over 100 million consoles sold, this becomes the most successful console of the 7th generation.
In 2007, the company acquires 80% of Monolith video game developer. In 2011, the company releases the Wii Mini which is a cheaper version of the Wii.
The Wii U, the successor to the Wii is released worldwide in 2012. It supports graphics in High Definition. This console is not a success as only 12.8 Million units of hardware are sold the world over.
The Nintendo Switch is to succeed the Wii U in 2017.