House of Cards
September 23, 1889: Nintendo is founded. The company was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi in order to sell Hanafuda cards. The Japanese government had banned all foreign playing cards and games in 1633 in order to stop gambling. They issued new bans each time a new card game came on the market and continued to do so for 250 years. Then, Hanafuda was invented and used illustrations rather than numbers. But after so many bans, the country was not eager to start again with a new game. Yamauchi began making cards with hand crafted artwork rather than general illustrations. His shop in Kyoto helped to boost the popularity of the game and was so successful, he was able to open a second shop in Osaka. Even now, Nintendo continues to manufacture playing cards in Japan and even sponsors their own contract bridge tournament, the Nintendo Cup.
In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Fusajiro’s grandson, visited the US and noticed the business was inherently limited. While aboard, he acquired a license to use Disney characters on his cards in the hope of boosting sale. By 1963 with the name changed from Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. to Nintendo Co., Ltd. they began to experiment in other ventures. They opened a taxi service which was successful but sold it off after labor disputes. They opened a love hotel chain (exactly what it sounds like), a TV network, a food company, and many more. Nothing was successful.
In 1966, they moved into the toy industry with Ultra Hand, an extendable gripping device. They tried other toys but could not gain market share. In 1973, focus shifted to family entertainment with the Laser Clay Shooting System which had some modest success. Due to higher costs, they too had to be shut down. They entered a new market in 1974, video games. They got rights to distribute Magnavox Odyssey game consoles and began to produce their own hardware in 1977. Shigeru Miyamoto was hired and he designed a new box for the game and went on to design some of Nintendo’s most famous games. The company also moved into the video arcade game industry.
The Nintendo gaming system branched out into mobile games with Gameboy in 1989. Games became mobile and traveled with players and nearly 120 million were sold. Wii game systems began using a different type of interactive system in 2006 and have sold over 100 million units. Still headquartered in Kyoto, today, they have Genyo Takeda as IRD General Manager and Miyamoto as EAD General Manager. They employ over 5000 people at their only store and had a revenue of ¥571.726 billion in 2014. The company is Japan’s third most valuable listed company with a market value over $85 billion.
Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll.
I try not so much to create new characters and worlds but to create new game-play experiences.
Anything that is impractical can be play. It’s doing something other than what is necessary to continue living as an animal.
I don’t think as a creator that I could create an experience that truly feels interactive if you don’t have something to hold in your hand, if you don’t have something like force feedback that you can feel from the controller. – all from Shigeru Miyamoto
Also on this day: I Shot the Sheriff – In 1980, Bob Marley played his last concert.
No Crash – In 1999, Qantas suffered its worst incident of the century.
40-40 Club – In 1988, Jose Canseco began the 40-40 Club.
Lost at Sea – In 1641, the Merchant Royal, a British merchant ship, sunk.
Firefox Comes Online – In 2002, Firefox went live.
* “Nintendo former headquarter plate Kyoto”. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nintendo_former_headquarter_plate_Kyoto.jpg#/media/File:Nintendo_former_headquarter_plate_Kyoto.jpg