Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Type Public
Industry Card games (previously), video games
Founded September 23, 1889
Headquarters Japan: Kyoto
US: Redmond, Washington
Canada: Vancouver, British Columbia
Germany: Großostheim
Australia: Scoresby, Victoria
China: Suzhou
South Korea: Seoul
Taiwan: Taiwan
Employees 4,425 (2010)

Nintendo Co., Ltd. (commonly known simply as Nintendo) is a multinational corporation based in Kyoto, Japan. The company was founded on September 23, 1889 as a hanafuda card company. The company also is a former toy, love hotel business, and cab company. Since 1974, Nintendo has been currently producing video game consoles, video game handhelds, and video games. Nintendo is one the most influential video game companies in the industry. The corporation is also the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners Major League Baseball team.

History[edit | edit source]

Nintendo Koppai (1889–1956)[edit | edit source]

Nintendo was originally founded as a card company on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi. The company produced handmade playing cards called Hanafuda which soon became popular. To this day Nintendo still produces cards but in Japan only and even holds its own tournaments called the "Nintendo Cup".

Venturing (1956–1974)[edit | edit source]

In 1956, when Fusjiro's grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi, visited the United States to talk with the United States Playing Card Company, the dominant card manufacturer there. After seeing how the world's biggest card company was only using a small office, he realized the limitations of his industry. He gained access to put Disney characters on his cards in order to drive sales. In 1963, Yamauchi renamed Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. to Nintendo Co., Ltd. The company then began to experiment in other businesses. During this time Nintendo set up a taxi service, love hotel, television network, food company, and other things. All of these ventures eventually failed. In 1966, Nintendo moved into the Japanese toy industry with the Ultra Hand, an extendable arm developed by its maintenance engineer Gunpei Yokoi in his free time. Yokoi was moved from maintenance to the new "Nintendo Games" department as a product developer. Nintendo continued to produce popular toys, including the Ultra Machine, Love Tester and the Kousenjuu series of light gun games. Despite some successful products, Nintendo struggled to meet the fast development and manufacturing turnaround required in the toy market, and fell behind the well-established companies such as Bandai and Tomy. In 1973, its focus shifted to family entertainment venues with the Laser Clay Shooting System, using the same light gun technology used in Nintendo's Kousenjuu series of toys, and set up in abandoned bowling alleys. Following some success, Nintendo developed several more light gun machines for the emerging arcade scene. While the Laser Clay Shooting System ranges had to be shut down following excessive costs, Nintendo had found a new market.

Video Game Industry (1974-Present)[edit | edit source]

Nintendo's first venture into the video-gaming industry was securing rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey video game console in Japan in 1974. Nintendo began to produce its own hardware in 1977, with the Color TV Game home video game consoles. Four versions of these consoles were produced, each including variations of a single game (for example, Color TV Game 6 featured six versions of Light Tennis).

A student product developer named Shigeru Miyamoto was hired by Nintendo at this time. He worked for Yokoi, and one of his first tasks was to design the casing for several of the Color TV Game consoles. Miyamoto went on to create, direct and produce some of Nintendo's most famous video games and become one of the most recognizable figures in the video game industry.

In 1975, Nintendo moved into the video arcade game industry with EVR Race, designed by their first game designer, Genyo Takeda, and several more titles followed. Nintendo had some small success with this venture, but the release of Donkey Kong in 1981, designed by Miyamoto, changed Nintendo's fortunes dramatically. The success of the game and many licensing opportunities (such as ports on the Atari 2600, Intellivision and ColecoVision) gave Nintendo a huge boost in profit. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

In 1980, Nintendo launched Game & Watch—a handheld video game series developed by Yokoi where each game was played on a separate device—to worldwide success. In 1983, Nintendo launched the Family Computer (commonly shortened "Famicom"), known outside Japan as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), home video game console in Japan, alongside ports of its most popular arcade titles. In 1985, the NES launched in North America, and was accompanied by Super Mario Bros., currently the one of the best-selling video games of all time.

In 1989, Yokoi developed the Game Boy handheld game console.

The Nintendo Entertainment System was superseded by the Super Famicom, known outside Japan as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). This was Nintendo's console of the 16-bit 4th generation, following the Famicom of the 8-bit 3rd generation, whose main rival was the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. A fierce console war between Sega and Nintendo ensued. The SNES eventually sold 49.10 million consoles, around 20 million more than the Mega Drive/Genesis.

During the dominance of the Game Boy line, its creator, Yokoi, designed the Virtual Boy, a table-mounted semi-portable console featuring stereoscopic graphics. Users view games through a binocular eyepiece and control games using a gamepad. Rushed to market in 1995 to compensate for development delays with the upcoming Nintendo 64, the Virtual Boy was a commercial failure due to poor third-party support and a large price point. Amid the systems's failure, Yokoi was asked to leave Nintendo.

The company's next home console, the Nintendo 64, was released in 1996 and features 3D graphics capabilities and built-in multiplayer for up to four players. The system's controller introduced the analog stick. Nintendo later introduced the Rumble Pak, an accessory for the Nintendo 64 controller that produced force feedback with compatible games. It was the first such device to come to market for home console gaming and eventually became an industry standard.

The Nintendo GameCube followed in 2001 and was the first Nintendo console to utilize optical disc storage instead of cartridges. The most recent home console, the Wii, uses motion sensing controllers and has on-board online functionality used for services such as Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and Internet Channel (in contrast to GameCube's limited functionality on select games with an additional modem accessory). The Wii's success, as well as the success of the DS, introduced an expansion of audience to broader and non-traditional demographics, a business model with which Nintendo has had success. Contrarily, the new business model has also resulted in some long-time gamers abandoning the Nintendo console for its competitors

Divisions[edit | edit source]

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