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Friday, September 21, 2012

Early History Nintendo History # 2

What better place to start with Nintendo history then at the beginning.

It all began when Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo in 1889. Nintendo was originally a playing card company and they started by producing and advertising Hanafuda cards. In fact it wasn't until 85 years later that Nintendo ventured into video games. In 1974 they secured the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan. Then it wasn't until 7 years later in 1981 that Mario was created as Jumpman in Donkey Kong. It's amazing to think that there is almost 100 years of Nintendo history that doesn't get talked about much. Even Nintendo employees rarely goes back before Donkey Kong when talking about the company. It does happen though such as Nintendo releasing Mario themed Hanafuda cards for Club Nintendo users. The WarioWare series has numerous times referenced these past business moves. The farthest back I have seen is going back to 1966 when Nintendo went into the Japanese toy industry with the Ultra Hand. The Ultra Hand even got a WiiWare game for Club Nintendo users. It is worth noting that Nintendo had numerous business ventures over the years but still were mainly a playing card company until 1963. That is 74 years of focusing on only playing cards. You may wonder what snapped to cause so much change after such a long time doing the same thing. The answer would be Hiroshi Yamauchi, the third president of Nintendo. In 1949 his Grandfather suffered a stroke and named Hiroshi his successor. In 1956 he visited the United States Playing Card Company and realized that the biggest company in the world in Playing Cards was ran in a small office. Realizing the limitations of the business, Hiroshi tried many business ventures. Famously Nintendo also owned a chain of love hotels as one of these business ventures. The Playing Card market dropped in 1964. The price of Nintendo stock was only 60 yen. All business ventures failed up until entering the toy industry. The success in the toy industry is in large part to Gunpei Yokoi. Yokoi invented the Ultra Hand in his spare time as a maintenance engineer for Nintendo. Yokoi soon produced several popular toys for Nintendo. These two men shaped Nintendo from just a Playing Card company and into the toy industry. Without this change and the success that was had, Nintendo would not have been there to become the Nintendo that many know today.

But that will be a story for another day.

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