Former president of Nintendo
of Japan. Yamauchi was born on November 7, 1927. Yamauchi's childhood, for the most part, was horrible. His father abandoned him at the age of five, and he was sent to live with his grandfather, Fusajiro Yamauchi, founder of a small Japanese playing card company called Nintendo. (Nintendo translated roughly means "Leave Luck to Heaven.")
In 1949, Fusajiro suffered a stroke and Hiroshi was made president of the company. He didn't waste any time. To prove he was going to take the company seriously and that no one should test his power, he fired nearly all of the employees, including his own relatives working there! In 1950 he set up Nintendo's first licensing deal - to have Walt Disney characters on their playing cards.
In the early 1970's, Yamauchi recognized a new potential creative direction and income stream - computer games. Most of this interest grew from the rising popularity of arcade games in America. Nintendo started developing light gun technology to be used in arcades, including the popular game 'Battle Shark.'
The 1980's brought Nintendo's greatest successes. Yamauchi began working with Gunpei Yokoi
and the Game & Watch series was made. They were portable LCD games, which were a reasonable success. After this, Nintendo launched an arcade game called Radar Scope, which was a failure in the American market. Yamauchi then asked Shigeru Miyamoto
to work on Radar Scope and try to save it. Miyamoto told his team that Radar Scope was so terrible, they were going to have to do away with it and take it's technology to make something new.
Miyamoto's decision paid off. The new arcade game was called Donkey Kong
, which was a massive worldwide hit, and helped Nintendo of America get to its feet. It was then that Yamauchi began letting Miyamoto and Yokoi each head their very of development team which inevitably gave birth to Nintendo's mascots: Mario
, and many, many more!
Hiroshi decided he wanted to launch the greatest home console ever. The 'Famicom
' was huge in Japan, but the video game market in America by 1983 pretty much died from the unexpected crash and closures from businesses. He took this opportunity to further expand Nintendo's market overseas.
He launched the Famicom to a test audience in New York as the Nintendo Entertainment System
. (NES) This plan worked and in 1985 the console began it's ten years of huge sales in America. The time was just right for a new console and a revolutionary wave of video games. The NES single handedly revived the market in America. Nintendo also kept a tight grip on the market share as their NES literally owned the entire video game market with little to no competitors!
This was the beginning of Nintendo as we know them today, and we have Yamauchi to thank for this. He single handedly turned Nintendo Co. Ltd. from a simple playing card company to a giant electronic entertainment business, one of the biggest in Japan. Yamauchi has been described as a harsh, stern business man. He expected a lot out of his development teams and always had a say-so in every video game or hardware Nintendo ever produced. He takes no shit from anyone. He looked down on many software companies as inferior and forced them to sign unfair contracts during the NES and SNES eras. He also practiced many illegal marketing scams with major retailers in America, which Nintendo got away with for many years. This attitude however cost Nintendo many third-parties during the PlayStation/Nintendo 64 era.
Yamauchi was a vital part to Nintendo's success for nearly 52 years, and, in 2002, he finally stepped down as president and made Satoru Iwata
, former HAL Laboratories employee, president of Nintendo. For the following years, Yamauchi would still play a major role in Nintendo's decisions, as he still maintained 10% of the company's stock.
Finally his full retirement came in 2005 when he said he would be leaving the company for good. Yamauchi, now 77, declined all retirement benefits Nintendo offered him, as he said he'd rather see the money be invested in the company's future. He says his decision to retire comes from aging and his lack of stamina. Yamauchi is now focusing his last years as the owner of a new poetry museum in Tokyo, Japan.
Aside from the video game business, he's also the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners, which is now managed by former Nintendo of America chairman, Howard Lincoln
"Yo man, you know how much Yamauchi-san is worth? He's one of Japan's richest and most valueable men!"
"Don't go fucking with Yamauchi-san, he'll fuck you up in the business department!"
"We are one of the biggest companies in the world, the number one developer and publisher, and leader of the industry, and we have Yamauchi-san to thank for making us THIS big and THIS important!"