When most people think of Nintendo they likely picture things like Mario, Legend of Zelda, Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario again, and then Pokémon. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that none of those existed when the company was founded on 23rd September 1889; back then Nintendo specialised in hanafuda playing cards, for one thing.
That means that, at the time of writing, the company has turned 127 years old. Now, many of you will be reading this on 22nd September in regions like Europe and North America, but it is the right date in Japan, so as some of you have kindly pointed us to the Wikipedia page to check the date we thought it'd be appropriate to commemorate the landmark on Nintendo's time zone.
It's a remarkable run for the company. Below is part of a summary we posted to celebrate the company's 125th Anniversary.
Founded initially as Nintendo Koppai by Fusajiro Yamauchi (Koppai was rather cutely referenced in Pikmin 3), it was a company that thrived on the hanafuda playing card craze in Japan. Upon Fusajiro Yamauchi standing down in 1947 he was replaced by grandson Hiroshi Yamauchi, who would be a pivotal figure in Nintendo's moves into international markets and new products throughout his reign as President. The company's name was changed to the familiar Nintendo Co., Ltd in 1963 and famously embarked upon some diverse and failed businesses, such as taxi services, food products and, notoriously, Love Hotels. Yamauchi-san's ideas at this point may have failed and put the company at risk, but his acceptance that it needed to evolve from playing cards was fundamental to its future success.
It was when seeing Gunpei Yokoi — a pivotal figure that would revolutionise the concept of portable gaming with Game & Watch and the Game Boy — experimenting with a claw that Yamauchi-san pushed in a more successful direction. It was made into the Ultra Hand, and with its success the company was transformed into a toy company that enjoyed success through the 1970s and into the 1980s. With Yamauchi-san's drive, Yokoi-san's technological design skills and a breakthrough of a young Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo took the step from toys into electronic video games. What began as success for the original arcade Donkey Kong and licensing opportunities became the Famicom / Nintendo Entertainment System, with the entertainment system branding being particularly important in the West after the failure of the game console industry in the years before. The NES became a huge success with children - in particular - in the mid to late '80s, followed by the Game Boy as a mainstream portable phenomenon by the close of that decade.
The rest, as they say, is history.
We're now in the midst of another pivotal period for Nintendo, as it prepares for a new generation of gaming hardware and continues to expand its efforts in areas such as licensing and smart device apps / games. You can bet we'll be contemplating that in an updated version of this talking point from the 125th Anniversary over the coming weekend; that's our modus operandi, after all...
For now, though, we just have one thing to say. Happy Birthday Nintendo.