Nintendo the birth of a giant


The giant of company that have entertain us across decades and generations of fine gaming experience from the Nintendo Entertainment System or Famicon as is know in the land of its birth.

After churning console after console and inventing outlandish controllers that is pretty damn hard to not admire them for their creativity and balls to break the mold, but really how many of us know its history, their humble beginnings nearly a century ago or that the meaning of the name of the company is Leave luck to heaven.

The Hanafuda/Card Game Era (1889-1952)


More of us know Nintendo as video game company but actually they go way before the advent of the video games by producing Hanafuda cards (花札 or flower cards) which are used for a variety of games including gambling, they consisted of 48 cards divided into 12 different suits, according to each month of the year.

If you want to know more about Hanafuda visit this site.

Back then te intrepid Yamauchi Fusajiro (山内 房治郎) started a company he called Nintendo Koppai in Japan old capital of Kyoto and began to sell the aforementioned cards.

Did i mention that they were all hand made but they sell rater poorly until the Yakuza (they are kinda like the Mafia but different at same time) used them for their gambling parlors to the point that each time they played  a new deck should be used and Fusajiro was the man for the job and so become Nintendo Hanafuda become popular thanks to Yakuza that good old Fusa had to hand helpers to meet to demand.

In 1907, Fusajiro expanded the business to make Nintendo the first company to succeed in manufacturing western style playing cards and successfully selling them in Japan. With his growing success, Fusajiro needed a better distribution system for his cards. In a landmark deal, Fusajiro partnered with Japan Tobacco & Salt Public Corporation to sell the cards in their cigarette shops.

nintendo hanafuda

Nintendo Hanafuda

Once the 1-1 level was completed Fusajiro just got another little problem, he didn’t have a a male heir just her daughter Tei (which i couldn’t find a picture of her), you see back there Japan was (and still is) a little chauvinistic so a girl can’t inherent the family business, so a hard-working yet lucky dude by name of  Kanda Sekiryo (金田 積良) got an arranged marriage whit his daughter and become the heir was renamed Yamauchi Sekiryo 山内 積良).

By the time Sekiryo took over Nintendo was already japan #1 card maker and in 1933 he renamed the company Yamauchi Nintendo & Co and also funded Marufuku Co. Ltd. to distribute Nintendo’s new western style cards including its pinochle and poker decks and  then he reign with to much trouble with the exception that he also only have one daughter which was named Kimi .

So no luck there, but time can’t be stopped, so the Nintendo Ojousama  grow up and got married to Inaba Shikanojo but the dude did a move that in retrospective was the error of his life: he abandoned his family and got lost in the shadows of history, but not whiteout leaving a son named Yamauchi Hiroshi (山内溥).

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Sadly in 1949 Sakiryo an old man himself died of heart stroke but asked his Hiroshi to take the position and so Hiroshi drop out of the Waseda University to take the reigns but only if he was the only Yamauchi so he fired his cousin and then anyone that question his authority from the managers to the old workers . Then he renamed the company yet again from Yamauchi Nintendo & Co toNintendo Karuta Co. Ltd or Nintendo Playing Cards Co. Ltd.

Time later he introduced plastic cards to Japan and become a novelty but being associated with gambling games such as poker make sales quite limited since gambling was very restricted by the government, being Pachinko, Horse Racing and Lottery the only legal ones.

Hiroshi really hit gold when he got a  deal with Disney to produce cards depicting the characters, selling it with books to teach different games that could be played with them. This way Nintendo could sell cards to household and sold 600,000 packs in a single year, they Hiroshi start talks with the United States Playing Card Company but when he visit them he was disappointed that the leader in card making was only a little ofice and the factory wasn’t that great.

In 1963Hiroshi renamed again the company  from NintendoPlaying Cards Co. Ltd. to actual name of Nintendo Co. Limited. At this point Nintendo has a lot money so they began to experiment in different markets such as Love Hotel chain, a taxi company, a toy making, among other, and everyone of them was a rotund failure with the sole exception of toy making this events put Nintendo in a financial crisis.


I don´t see where thing where wrong

The Making Era and he coming of the Two Sages of Destiny

Since Nintendo diversification business didn’t payoff and the people stop buying playing card Nintendo began to struggle to survive, but heavens didn’t forsake the company, and send help in the form of Yokoi Gunpei 横井 軍平 ) you may remember him by being the father of the Gameboy but at this point in the story he was a humble maintenance engineer

One fateful day Yamauchi Hiroshi was observing a hanafuda factory when he noticed an extending arm that Gunpei make in his free time , he then bid Gunpei to make a proper product for the Christmas Rush, and this gave birth to the Ultra Hand that become one of Nintendo best sellers and thus saving the company from bankruptcy.


The Ultra Arm

Sensing that Gunpei was the man (and a electronic engineer), he was moved from maintenance to product development and start making one toy after another such as:

The Ten Billion Barrel also known as the Nintendo tumbler puzzle was a puzzle game played in a similar fashion the Rubik’s Cube. The object of this game is to sort the balls so that each of the five columns contains the same coloured balls.


Nintendo Ten Billion Barrels Puzzle

The Love Tester was a novelty device that gave users a rating on how romantic you are with another person. In order to get a reading both a girl and a boy would hold each others hands and with their free hands hold the two handles inside the machine. The machine actually measured the current that passed though the two people and gave a rating on that.


Nintendo love tester

The Ultra Ball an automatic baseball throwing machine that pitch balls at a slow pace

Nintendo Ultra Machine

Nintendo Ultra Machine

Gumpei joined forces with Masayuki Uemouraand began working on beam gun games that used solar cells. The solar cells were mounted onto targets and were used to sense a light beam. The result of this Yokoi and Uemoura collaboration was a fun, cost effective toy and at the same time made Nintendo the first Japanese company to produce a toy that contained electronic components.

beam gun

Nintendo Beam Gun

Sadly even though nintendo make all this great toys they still cannot compete with already established companies such as Bandai (they have toy licences of many populars shows like Gundam or Ultraman) and TOMY (they own the toy licence of transformer in japan and famous animes such as naruto now days).

Still true to their name heavens change their luck by sending them one young idealist artist  by name of Miyamoto Shigeru 宮本 茂 ), sensing great power form the young one Junpei Yokoi took Shigueru under his wing and teach him everything he knew puting him on the road to make him “The father of Modern Video Games.

Thats all for now please look forward to the second part of the article when i talk about the last age of nintendo.


2 Responses

  1. i might not have assumed this was remarkable just a few years back yet somehow it is crazy how time varies the method by which you experience a number of creative concepts, many thanks regarding the blog post it’s enjoyable to browse through some thing clever now and then in lieu of the normal garbage mascarading as information sites on the net, cheers

  2. […] 1 from the article “Nintendo the birth of a giant“ Image 2 from the Nintendo Wiki (check out images of the Mario cards!) Image 3 from the […]

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