×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Roku Channel to Stream Game of

    Roku to Stream First Season of 'Game of Thrones' for Free Later This Month

    Ready to start over on “Game of Thrones,” or finally give it a try if you never watched it in the first place? Streaming device maker Roku is giving its customers another chance to watch the first season of the hit show, as well as a number of other popular shows, for free through the [...]

  • Madhuri Dixit Nene

    Bollywood Icon Madhuri Dixit to Make Netflix Series Debut (EXCLUSIVE)

    Iconic Bollywood actress, Madhuri Dixit Nene is poised to make her Netflix acting debut with an as-yet-untitled series. Karan Johar is set as creative producer. The series will be a suspenseful family, written by New York-based writer-director Sri Rao, reflecting on the lives lead by people in the entertainment industry. Dixit featured in some of [...]

  • Richie Mehta in Macao

    Richie Mehta Advances Macao Project 'The Price of Tea'

    After winning six prizes on Friday with his “Delhi Crime” series, Canadian-Indian director Richie Mehta is again making film project “The Price of Tea,” which was previously pitched in Macau, as his top priority. Having attended the International Film Festival & Awards Macao’s project market with “Tea” in 2017, Mehta is back this year on [...]

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • Bernie Sanders Trump win

    Bernie Sanders Vows to Break Up Comcast, Verizon & AT&T: 'Their Greed Must End'

    Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled plans to launch publicly-funded broadband networks and break up big internet providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T Thursday. “Their greed must end,” the Sanders campaign wrote in its high-speed internet policy proposal. The campaign argued that high-speed internet access should be treated as a public utility, [...]

  • The Office

    Streaming Wars Heat Up Rerun Market as New Services Stock Up on Hits

    In a year in which more than 500 scripted series are on the air and new streaming services seem to debut nearly monthly, some of the biggest money being thrown around for content has gone to a handful of old TV shows, the kind that for years have hummed along evening television without much fuss. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content