Started on September 23, 1889, Nintendo turns 125 today.
What began in 1889 in Japan as a playing card company has transitioned into one of the video games giant today. The company is most famous for bringing to the world Super Mario, Pokemon and Zelda. These characters were established much before the video games were launched in the early 90s. This article takes you through the transition that saw a playing cards company transform into one of the biggest video game manufacturer.
Started in 1889 under the name Yamauchi Nintendo, the company began producing playing cards. To get around the strict Japanese law against gambling, the company used images instead of numbers on their playing cards. While this was not a great business at the time, it formed the basis for one of the greatest video game company.
In 1970, the company launched its first electronic game – the Beam Gun. This was a toy gun that emitted a beam of light that was used to shoot photoelectric targets. This was the first electronic game to be introduced in Japan.
Donkey Kong and Mario
In 1980, Shigeru Miyamoto created the game Donkey Kong. The game featured a carpenter called Jumpman who tries to save his girlfriend from an angry gorilla. Once the American headquarters of Nintendo had been setup, Jumpman was renamed Mario. This was the birth of one of the most famous game characters ever.
In 1989, Nintendo launched the first portable gaming system called the Gameboy. It used removable cartridges that had different games stored on it. With Donkey Kong, Mario and Tetris, Nintendo had a monopoly in the video game industry.
Soon after the Gameboy, the company launched Nintendo 64 in 1996. This was the world’s first 64-bit video game system. The console sold about half a million units on the first day itself.
In 1999, Nintendo launched Pokemon in Europe – which went on to become the second most successful video game franchisee in the world, behind Nintendo’s own Mario franchisee. Once its popularity grew, Pokemon cards, comics, toys and books were also launched.
In 2006, Nintendo launched a completely new kind of gaming console – the Wii. The console used wireless motion sensing remotes to play, instead of the regular joysticks. With Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Wii became the most successful seventh generation console, beating the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in worldwide sales.