- (PHOTO: Reuters)
Top Nintendo pioneer and former president of the company Hiroshi Yamauchi died Thursday at the age of 85 in Japan.
Suffering with a bout of pneumonia, the man who took Nintendo from a playing card company into a video game empire, was at the helm for around 50 years beginning in 1949.
Nintendo formed in 1889 and made traditional playing cards. It was Yamauchi's vision to turn the company into the giant it is today as he helped develop the Family Computer (Famicom) and Gameboy portable consoles after making many arcade machines and games.
He was a third generation head of the business that began in his hometown of Kyoto according Reuters.
AP reports that he is also responsible for bringing in Mario and Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who's games helped catapult the NES over their closest competitor at the time, Atari.
In later years, Yamauchi served as an advisor to Nintendo after stepping down in 2002, although that role decreased over the last few years.
Yamauchi also owned the Seattle Mariners baseball club until 2004, when he sold it to Nintendo U.S. He was the first foreign owner of a major league baseball team. He was succeeded by Satoru Iwata.
The former president was listed by Forbes as being worth $7.8 billion five years ago around the time the Wii was doing really well; making him the richest man in Japan.
Last year he was ranked at 13, and worth $2.1 billion.
Interestingly enough, Yamauchi reportedly never finished college because he was interrupted by WWII. He was too young to fight, so instead worked in a military factory.