×

Hiroshi Yamauchi Dies: Former Nintendo President Was 85

Hiroshi Yamauchi, who ran Nintendo for more than 50 years and led the Japanese company’s transition from traditional playing-card maker to videogame giant, died Sept. 19 of pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan. He was 85.

Yamauchi was president of Kyoto-based Nintendo from 1949 to 2002 and engineered the company’s global growth, including developing the early Family Computer consoles and Game Boy portables.

Reputed as a visionary and among the richest men in Japan, Yamauchi made key moves such as employing the talents of Shigeru Miyamoto, a global star of game design and the brainchild of Nintendo hits such as “Super Mario Bros.” and “Donkey Kong.”

Nintendo, which makes Super Mario and Pokemon games as well as the Wii U home console, was founded in 1889. It made traditional playing cards before venturing into videogames.

Yamauchi owned the Seattle Mariners Major League baseball club before selling it to Nintendo’s U.S. unit in 2004.

Yamauchi, who had little interest in baseball, was approached to buy the Mariners, who may have had to move to Florida without a new backer. The acquisition made the Seattle club the first in the Major Leagues to have foreign ownership.

Popular on Variety

Yamauchi was a dropout of the prestigious Waseda U. in Tokyo. His raspy voice and tendency to speak informally in his native Kyoto dialect reflected a kind of disarming spontaneity rare among Japanese executives.

After being succeeded by president Satoru Iwata at the helm of Nintendo, Yamauchi stayed on as adviser, but his role increasingly diminished with the years.

The company has floundered in the past couple of years, hurt by a strong yen and competition from games on smartphones and tablets.

Yamauchi is survived by Katsuhito Yamauchi, his eldest son.

A funeral is scheduled for Sunday at Nintendo, following a wake on Saturday.

More Digital

  • Apple-Coronavirus

    Apple Warns of Sales Shortfall for March Quarter, Blaming Coronavirus Outbreak

    Apple said the spread of the coronavirus in China has disrupted iPhone manufacturing and driven down sales in the country. As a result, the tech giant said it now expects to undershoot the revenue guidance it previously provided, of between $63.0 billion and $67.0 billion its fiscal 2020 second quarter (which ends March 28). “Work [...]

  • Jeff Bezos

    Jeff Bezos Forms $10 Billion Fund to Fight Climate Change

    Multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, announced a $10 billion fund to invest in projects that will combat the alarming trend of climate change. The Amazon founder and CEO announced the formation of the Bezos Earth Fund in an Instagram post Monday (Feb. 17).⁣⁣⁣ According to Bezos, the fund will begin issuing grants this [...]

  • Jake Paul

    YouTuber Jake Paul Launches Entrepreneur How-To Platform, Financial Freedom Movement

    YouTuber Jake Paul wants you to be financially free, for $19.99 a month.  At a rally on Saturday, the content creator — along with influencer friends and around 50 teenage and tween-age fans, some chaperoned by parents — launched the Financial Freedom Movement (FFM) in partnership with GenZ Holdings Inc., a Los Angeles-based brand development [...]

  • HQ Trivia

    HQ Trivia Live Game App Shuts Down

    After a two and a half years, HQ Trivia — the live game-show app that gave away cash prizes to winners — is shutting down. HQ Trivia’s move to shut its doors was first reported by CNN. The company is laying off its 25 full-time staffers, according to the report. In a tweet Friday, CEO [...]

  • Golden Mics - The Podcast Academy

    The Oscars of Podcasting? First 'Golden Mics' Awards to Debut in 2021

    The burgeoning podcast biz is looking for its own version of the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. On Friday, a group of podcast publishers and producers including Spotify, NPR, PRX, Sony Music Entertainment and Wondery announced the formation of the Podcast Academy, a membership-based organization dedicated to promoting the medium. As part of its charter, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content