Nintendo Turns 119 Today
Happy birthday Nintendo! Some of you are reading this and are wondering; 119? Wow, how is Nintendo that old. Well my young padawans, the answer can be found for you below. Enjoy reading about the long history of Nintendo after the Jump. How about three mighty big cheers for our favorite company!
Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai in Kyoto, Japan as a Hanafuda playing card manufacturer. Each card was hand crafted and painted, and then sold in Nintendo stores in Kyoto and Osaka.
Market success led Nintendo Koppai to produce special edition cards with different symbols.
Nintendo became the first Japanese company to manufacture and successfully sell western-style playing cards.
Following the adoption of Nintendo cards by the Yakuza (the Japanese equivalent of the Mafia) in high-stake gambling games, Nintendo fell under pressure to begin mass-production of the cards. Fusajiro trained apprentices to help manufacture the cards in higher volume, and other stores were sought to expand distribution.
Fusajiro Yamauchi retired, and his son-in-law Sekiryo Yamauchi became president of Nintendo Koppai, by now Japan’s largest playing card company.
Sekiryo Yamauchi set up a joint partnership company named Yamauchi Nintendo & Co.
A separate distribution company for the range of Western playing cards was set up, named Marufuku Co. Ltd.
Sekiryo Yamauchi retired and the presidency of Nintendo Koppai passed to Fusajiro’s grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi.
Hiroshi Yamauchi changed the company name to Nintendo Karuta Co., Ltd.
A new Nintendo Karuta headquarters was built in Kyoto, Japan. The Kyoto manufacturing plants were consolidated.
Nintendo Karuta became the first company to succeed in mass-producing and selling plastic playing cards in Japan.
Hiroshi Yamauchi and Walt Disney struck a licensing deal, allowing Nintendo Karuta to market playing cards featuring popular Disney characters, opening up a new market for children’s playing cards.
Nintendo Karuto Co., Ltd. is listed on the second section of the Osaka Securities Exchange and the Kyoto Stock Exchange.
The company name is changed to the current Nintendo Co., Ltd. Part of the reason for the change was to allow the company to expand into other products. The first product launch was packets of portioned instant rice, but this venture proved unsuccessful, as was the sleazy Love Hotel – reported to have been visited by Yamauchi himself.
Nintendo also became the principle operators of the Daiya taxi firm. The business was a success for a while, but powerful taxi unions forced salaries up and Nintendo lost a significant amount of profit, forcing Daiya to close.
Nintendo’s first research and development department, named “Games” was established to develop and produce toys and games. The first game was called Rabbit Coaster.
A maintenance employee named Gunpei Yokoi, who had a personal interest in tinkering and creating toys, was moved to the Games division. His first product, the Ultra Hand extendable claw, became a massive hit for Nintendo.
The Uji manufacturing plant was built in Kyoto.
Stock listing was changed to the first section of the Osaka Securities Exchange.
A deal with Sharp Electronics allowed Nintendo to use Sharp light sensor technology in toys. The Kousenjuu (Beam Gun) series of games was released, each game providing a light-emitting gun and a target for you to shoot. This leads Nintendo to become the first Japanese company to employ electronic components in toys for children.
Nintendo bought up several abandoned bowling alleys in Japan and converted them to the Laser Clay Shooting System – large-scale versions of the Beam Gun games, where your targets were clay pigeons made of light. These arcades went on to become a popular past-time.
An image projection system using a 16mm film projector and Beam Gun technology was developed, allowing Nintendo to enter the arcade entertainment market. Several of these systems, including Wild Gunman, were exported to the U.S. and Europe.
Following Japanese oil-shortages and the closure of the Laser Clay Shooting System ranges, Nintendo temporarily moved into distribution, importing the Magnavox Oddysey home videogame system in Japan.
Following the hiring of several Sharp Electronics employees, Nintendo created their first home videogame system, the Color TV Game 6. The system was only launched in Japan, and was followed by a series of Color TV Game systems.
Nintendo releases its first videogame arcade systems, including Computer Othello and Block Fever.
Nintendo of America Inc. was set up in New York to distribute Nintendo arcade and videogame systems in the United States.
Gunpei Yokoi created the first portable LCD videogame featuring a microprocessor, the Game & Watch. The first release in the Game & Watch series was Ball.
Following a tough year, Nintendo of America requested a game to replace the failing RadarScope. Nintendo set a junior employee, Shigeru Miyamoto, on the task. The game was Donkey Kong, Nintendo’s first international smash hit. The game introduced two of Nintendo’s most enduring characters, Mario and Donkey Kong, as well as changing the fortunes of the company.
Nintendo of America Inc. relocated to Seattle, Washington.
Nintendo released their first home videogame cartridge system, the Family Computer (Famicom) in Japan.
Nintendo is listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The Family Computer released in the Unites States as the “Nintendo Entertainment System”
Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros. in Japan and the United States. The game becomes a worldwide smash hit.
Nintendo structures its internal development teams into four research and development divisions, R&D1, R&D2, R&D3 and R&D4.
The Famicom Disk System released in Japan, expanding the potential for Famicom games. Launched with The Legend of Zelda, a ground-breaking adventure title, and the first videogame to feature a battery back-up save function.
The Uji plant was expanded and the Uji-Ogura plant built in Kyoto.
Nintendo of America launches the first issue of Nintendo Power magazine.
Nintendo releases the first portable handheld videogame cartridge system, the Game Boy. The system launches with Tetris, helping to make the system a massive success around the world.
Nintendo launches the 16-bit home videogame system, the Super Famicom, in Japan.
Nintendo of Europe GmbH is established in Frankfurt, Germany.
Nintendo’s internal research and development studios are renamed R&D1, R&D2, Integrated Research & Development (IRD) and Entertainment Analysis & Development (EAD).
The Super Famicom is launched in the United States as the “Super Nintendo Entertainment System” (SNES).
Nintendo releases Star Fox on the SNES, the first 3D polygon videogame on a home console. The game uses the Super FX chip to achieve the 3D effect, developed in the U.K. by Argonaut software.
International subsidiary distribution centres are set up in France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Australia.
The Uji-Okubo plant is built in Kyoto, Japan.
Nintendo releases Donkey Kong Country on the SNES. Developed by Rare in the U.K., the game is the first to use 3D CGI models to produce realistically textured sprites with a 3D appearance.
The 64-bit home videogame system with 3D graphics capabilities, the Nintendo 64, is launched in Japan and the U.S. alongside the first fully 3D platform game, Super Mario 64.
Pokémon Red and Green are released for the Game Boy in Japan.
The Game Boy Color, Game Boy Camera and Game Boy Printer are launched.
Pokémon Red and Blue are launched in the U.S. and Europe, starting the global Pokémon craze.
Hey You, Pikachu!, the first home videogame system game with voice recognition technology, is released in Japan.
Kirby Tilt ‘N’ Tumble, the first videogame to feature motion-sensing technology, is released in Japan.
The Nintendo Co., Ltd. headquarters are moved from the Higashiyama ward to the Minami ward of Kyoto.
The Game Boy Advance 32-bit portable handheld videogame system is launched worldwide.
Nintendo’s fourth home videogame system, the Nintendo Gamecube is launched in Japan and the U.S.
Following the successful hardware launches of 2001, Hiroshi Yamauchi steps down as president of Nintendo. For the first time in the company’s history, the presidency passes out of the hands of the Yamauchi family, as Satoru Iwata, a former executive from HAL Laboratory, is appointed successor.
Nintendo pilots an online points-collecting scheme in Europe.
The Tokyo Software Designing Department is established in Tokyo, Japan.
A partnership with the iQue company is established to release Nintendo games in China through official channels in an effort to crack down on widespread piracy in the country. The iQue Player is released.
Nintendo releases the Nintendo DS handheld videogame system in Japan and the U.S. The system features two screens, a touch screen, wireless and wi-fi network linking capabilities and a microphone. The system was created to open up new opportunities for unique games to be created.
The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection wireless internet service is launched.
Nintendogs and Brain Age for the Nintendo DS kickstart a craze for the system, leading to massive worldwide sales, a new market for gaming, and stock shortages.
Nintendo overhauls the structuring of its internal research and development studios. All internal software is now produced under the Nintendo EAD banner, split into separate EAD Studios. The Tokyo Software Designing Department becomes EAD Tokyo.
Nintendo releases their fifth home videogame system, the Wii. Featuring a motion-sensing remote, wi-fi internet access, downloadable “channels” and classic games, the system further pushes Nintendo’s effort to create new game experiences.