There is plenty of Nintendo's history that is well established, especially the more recent period of its video game business. Of course, the company goes much further back with an assortment of previous business ventures, with the original and most famous being Hanafuda and playing cards. It would eventually establish itself as a leader in that field in Japan, but some interesting research suggests that the very early history of the company may be due some revision.
In an article posted by Marcus Richert on Tech Radar, they explore Nintendo's founding year of 1889, which is the most commonly agreed period of Fusajiro Yamauchi creating the company. Their research suggests that the company was actually formed in 1892, three years later, and it seems there's documentary evidence to back that up. Reichert found historical records that consistently show 1892 as the founding year of the company, with the earlier date only emerging in records and popular perception decades later:
In business directories from the Taisho and early Showa periods such as the Teikoku Shinyo-roku, the company's founding date is consistently given as 1892, some three years later than Nintendo's claim.
I've dug through hundreds of documents in Japan's National Diet Library, and the earliest mention of the 1889 date I found was a listing in the 1936 edition of the Teikoku Shinyo-roku for Sekiryo Yamauchi, Fusajiro's son-in-law/adopted son and the second head of Nintendo.
...Now, it’s not inconceivable that Sekiryo realized, perhaps through the unexpected unearthing of some old document or in a conversation with his now 68-year-old father-in-law, that Fusajiro had founded the company when he was 21 rather than 24. It seems more likely that Sekiryo simply misremembered the date when the editors of the directory reached out to him to double-check it, and then it stuck.
The article also goes on to address a photograph often cited as showing Nintendo's first headquarters in 1889, with historians nevertheless suggesting that a bicycle in the shot actually dates the image between 1912 and 1930.
Further on in the piece Richert analyses some Edo-period cards from earlier in the 19th Century, suggesting that two examples bear references to Fusajiro Yamauchi's birth father, Sosuke Fukui. It's suggested that this may show an earlier influence that pre-dates Nintendo's business. A form of the logo present on these older cards is still used in Nintendo's cards to this day.
The latter theory is less conclusive, ultimately, but it does seem clear that Nintendo may have been founded in 1892, rather than 1889. It'll be interesting to see if Nintendo addresses or revises this detail, perhaps when it launches its 'Nintendo Gallery' space in the next couple of years.
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Nintendo was announced in 1889 but got delayed for 3 years.
My world has been shattered. A possible three year difference from 1889 is shocking!
Founding dates are often murky. For Apple Computers, do you count its incorporation date of April 1, 1976? The Apple 1 was first sold that month, but the pair of Steves had been working on it for quite some time before that. Do you go all the way to March 5, 1975 when Wozniak is reported as having been inspired to begin work on the Apple 1, or some other day in 1975/1976?
As long as Yamauchi was working on playing cards in 1889, I'd say it counts.
All that besides, Nintendo sticks to the 1889 date: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/corporate/en/history/index.html
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I read the source article about an hour ago on MSN & found it really interesting from a history perspective.
Interestingly enough, the author said that this hasn't been looked into before because Nintendo started out making Hanafuda cards, and card historians in Japan often look down upon Hanafuda for it's connection to gambling/Yakuza & tend to focus their efforts elsewhere.
The source article is interesting, a cool little investigation. The outcome of it, well, considering we are talking about the 19th century, I doubt that records of that time would be accurate in the first place. A company getting registered at that time could very easily have been in existence long before.
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@Snatcher @ilikeurattitude Nintendo: “I guess we could delay BOTW2 3 more years if it’s not that big of a difference then”
Meh all I really care is that they didn't get into gaming until the 1970s with their Color TV-Game plug and plays, RadarScope, and Donkey Kong arcade machines. The Nintendo before the 1970s was basically just a gig hopper company, they kept hopping from one industry to another like toy manufacturing, love hotel, taxi service, and producing playing cards.
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@YoshiF2 they could cite NL as the team who recommended it 😆
Essentially, that’s history for you. We just don’t know everything, only some things. We then place importance on incomplete information. Accuracy and the truth are sometimes separate claims in history. Therefore, Nintendo’s founding is unlikely to change based on this, if I had to guess.
@Specter_of-the_OLED, they were making playing cards for decades before they started "gig hopping" (and I believe still produce cards to this day, albiet in a much more limited capacity).
It wasn't until after 50 or so years of being solely in the business of cards that they started looking for other avenues of revenue (after the president was disappointed in seeing how small the headquarters of the world's largest playing card company was during a visit to the US), and even then they still made cards alongside all those failed ventures, as well as when they finally settled into toy making & game making.
Though yes, we can all be glad they made it big in the gaming market.
As a student of history I found this interesting, thank-you.
I appreciate the contents of the article matching the headline,
and am grateful that this was labelled Random, rather than World Changing News,
for though I do find this piece mildly diverting,
the information hasn't changed my world.
@YoshiF2 Lmao, you got a point there. But I meant the company’s founding, not that three years itself isn’t a difference, I should have said it’s not as life changing, anyway, I should have phrased it better.. As it sounds like I’m saying three years isn’t a lot, I will switch it up.
So basically no one actually knows because the stated founding years were given long after the fact by people not actually involved with the founding? Oh well. Old company is old.
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@strenny This is probably the craziest example of Godwin's Law I think I've ever seen.
Hi, I'm a playing card researcher and the author of the TechRadar article in question. The comments section here is kind of "meh, 3 years difference, OK..." and yeah, I understand, that's a neat little piece of trivia at most, sure. But if you actually click through and read the TechRadar article and look at the evidence presented, I think you'll agree it's highly likely Nintendo was really founded back in the days of the shogunate, i.e. in the Edo period, which IS kind of big news.
@MRICHERT Great research, it's always interesting to learn more about companies like these and 19th century Japan in general.
I found it interesting to read. I grant you, this isn't earthshaking secret knowledge, but I just like history and enjoy reading about the difficulties historians face when researching prosaic things like when exactly a company that would become one of the most influential companies on Earth was founded. Does it change the way I play video games? No, not at all. But I like to know things.
This article also led me over to the Kickstarter, which gave me some cool insight on traditional Japanese cardmaking, which is amazing.
Despite all the tedious sourpuss comments above, I found this newsworthy and fascinating, and I love how much careful historical research went into it. Nintendo's very early history has been investigated a lot more in recent years and I imagine there's a lot more to be discovered.
Maybe there's hope for solving the mystery of Super Mario Bros.'s US release date yet?
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