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23 September 2008

On this day in history: Nintendo founded, 1889

On 23rd September 1889, Japanese businessman Fusajiro Yamauchi founded a company he initially named Nintendo Koppai. Based in Kyoto, the company produced hand-made playing cards for a game called Hanafunda ('flower cards'). The popularity of the Yamauchi's cards enabled him to take on more employees and grow his company producing a variety of decks.

When Yamauchi retired in 1929, Nintendo was Japan's largest producer of playing cards. In the 1959, Yamauchi's grandson and president of Nintendo, Hiroshi Yamauchi, secured a deal with Disney to use their characters on playing cards. Despite the success of Nintendo's core business, during the 1960s Hiroshi decided to diversify the company's business portfolio by producing food, vacuum cleaners, setting up a taxi-cab company and a chain of hotels.

Unfortunately these ventures all failed, but during the 1970s Nintendo started a new profit-making line: electronic toys. The first of these was designed by an employee of Nintendo called Gunpei Yokoi who made a mechanical arm for his own amusement while working as a maintenance engineer. Realising he had found a talented designer, Hiroshi quickly moved Yokoi to product development where he went on to develop many of the electronic products for Nintendo that brought the company worldwide success.


Anonymous said...

I stopped to read because I though the date was wrong. I am so glad I stopped, Nintendo has an interesting history.

Borkiman said...

carol: Yes, I had to do a double take when I saw the date when I was writing the post. Thanks for the comment