|Type||Publicly traded company|
|Founded||September 3, 1889 (as Nintendo Koppai)|
1951 (as Nintendo Playing Card Co., Ltd.)
1963 (as Nintendo Co., Ltd.)
|Key people||Fusajiro Yamauchi, president (1889-1929)|
Sekiryo Yamauchi, president (1929-1949)
Hiroshi Yamauchi, president (1949-2002)
Satoru Iwata, president (2002-2015)
Tatsumi Kimishima, president (2015-2018)
Shuntaro Furukawa, president (2018 - )
|Products||Playing cards, toys, video games, video game hardware, video game consoles|
Nintendo Co., Ltd. (任天堂マルフク株式会社, Nintendō Marufuku kabushiki gaisha) is a game company that was founded as Nintendo Koppai (任天堂骨牌, "Nintendo Cards") by Fusajiro Yamauchi, on September 3, 1889.
- 1 Foundation by Fusajiro Yamauchi
- 2 Sekiryo Yamauchi becomes president
- 3 Hiroshi Yamauchi becomes president
- 4 Expansion and financial troubles
- 5 Nintendo enters the toy industry
- 6 Nintendo enters the arcade market with the Simulation System
- 7 First video games
- 8 Game & Watch
- 9 Radar Scope, Donkey Kong, and arcade success
- 10 Family Computer and the Nintendo Entertainment System
- 11 Game Boy
- 12 Super Famicom and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
- 13 The Virtual Boy, Nintendo's first major video game console failure
- 14 Unproduced Super Nintendo Entertainment System CD Add-on
- 15 Nintendo 64
- 16 Pokémon becomes a worldwide smash hit
- 17 Game Boy Color
- 18 GameCube
- 19 Satoru Iwata becomes president
- 20 Current Nintendo development divisions
- 21 Nintendo subsidiaries
- 22 Former Nintendo development divisions
- 23 Arcade hardware by Nintendo
- 24 Home computers and video game consoles by Nintendo
- 25 Miniature dedicated consoles by Nintendo
- 26 Handheld video game consoles by Nintendo
- 27 Video game peripherals by Nintendo
Foundation by Fusajiro Yamauchi
Nintendo Koppai was formed on September 3, 1889, following the relaxation of laws against playing cards in Japan. The company was founded in Kyoto, in an area that was well known for Yakuza activity. Yamauchi used this to his advantage, originally producing handmade Hanafuda playing cards, or flower cards. Nintendo's Hanafuda cards soon began to be used in Yakuza gambling parlors.
When demand began to overwhelm his ability to produce the handmade cards on his own, Yamauchi hired a small team to help him create the cards. His cards had become so popular that by the early 20th century, he opened up another card shop in Osaka, Japan. In 1902, Nintendo began manufacturing and selling French-style playing cards, which were the first of their kind to be manufactured in Japan.
Sekiryo Yamauchi becomes president
In 1929, at the age of 60, Fusajiro Yamauchi retired and left his son-in-law, Sekiryo Yamauchi, in charge of the company. By this time, Nintendo was the largest playing card maker in Japan. He set up a joint-partnership company named Yamauchi Nintendo and Co. in 1933. In 1947, he established a distribution company named Marufuku Co. Ltd. (マルフク株式会社), which distributed Nintendo's western-style playing cards throughout Japan.
Hiroshi Yamauchi becomes president
In 1949, Sekiryo Yamauchi retired following a stroke, and his grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi, took over the company.
In 1951, the company was renamed Nintendo Playing Card Co., Ltd. (任天堂骨牌株式会社, Nintendo Karuta Co., Ltd). In 1952, the manufacturing companies, which were spread throughout Kyoto, were consolidated into facilities in three wards in Kyoto. After the consolidation of manufacturing companies, Nintendo became the first company in Japan that mass-produced plastic playing cards in 1953.
In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi traveled to the United States and visited the world's largest playing card manufacturing company at the time, the United States Playing Card Company. He was disconcerted after the visit, since the world's largest playing card manufacturing company was being run out of, in his opinion, a small office. Thus, he realized that the playing card business was a niche business without much chance for growth.
In 1959, the head office was moved to the Higashiyama District in Kyoto. Nintendo secured the rights to use Disney characters on their playing cards. To keep up with demand, they automated the manufacturing process of their playing cards.
In 1961, a branch of Nintendo was established in Tokyo. In 1962, they became a publicly traded corporation when shares of the company were listed on the Osaka Securities Exchange and the Kyoto Stock Exchange.
Expansion and financial troubles
In 1963, as a result of the plan by Hiroshi Yamauchi to expand, "Playing Card" was removed from the name of the company, and the company became Nintendo Co., Ltd. They expanded beyond card games by buying companies in a variety of industries, including becoming the principal operators of the Daiya taxi firm, buying a food company that sold packets of instant rice, buying a television network, and buying a chain of love hotels. The latter were hotels that offered privacy to their guests by not keeping a record of names, akin to the "no-tell motels" in North America. All of these ventures failed, the companies owned by Nintendo dissolved, and Nintendo's stock fell to its lowest recorded value of 60 yen in 1964.
Nintendo enters the toy industry
To turn the company around, Hiroshi Yamauchi formed Nintendo's first research and development department, the Nintendo Games department, and entered the Japanese toy industry in 1964. Their first toy released was named "Rabbit Coaster". A maintenance employee named Gunpei Yokoi, who was interested in creating toys during his spare time, was moved to the Games division. In 1966, Gunpei Yokoi designed "Ultra Hand", a toy that had an extending arm that could be operated like scissors to pick up objects. "Ultra Hand" became the highest selling toy in Japan, resulting in Nintendo expanding in 1968 when a manufacturing plant was opened in Uji, a city on the outskirts of Kyoto. Yokoi developed another hit toy when he designed the "Love Tester", a toy that would determine how much two people loved each other. This toy was an even bigger hit than the last, and Nintendo began selling the "Love Tester" outside of Japan as well. As a result, in 1970, the listing of Nintendo stock was changed to the first section of the Osaka Securities Exchange.
Nintendo enters the arcade market with the Simulation System
In 1970, Nintendo entered an agreement with Sharp Electronics to use Sharp light sensor technology in toys. They formed Nintendo Research & Development 1, managed by Gunpei Yokoi, to work on products created with this technology. With the release of the Beam Gun light gun line, Nintendo became the first company in Japan to release toys with electronic components. The success led to the creation of a second research and development division, Nintendo Research & Development 2, managed by Masayuki Uemura, in 1972. In 1973, they entered the arcade market with a test run of Laser Clay Shooting System, which used a projected 35 mm film and was an adaptation of their Beam Gun technology. This test run was conducted in converted bowling alleys, but in 1974 it would be adapted for sale to standard arcades as Mini Laser Clay for the Simulation System.
First video games
In between the Simulation System releases, Nintendo began creating video games for the arcade market. The first video games utilized EVR film on a cathode ray tube display. In these games, up to six players would watch a film of various sports and they would bet on which one would be the winner. The first of the two games was EVR Race, released in 1975, which had a video of either horses or cars racing. The second was EVR Baseball, released in 1976, which had a video of a baseball game.
Nintendo began releasing video games to the home market in 1977, with the Color TV-Game, Nintendo's first video game console. The first two Color TV-Game systems used a simple Pong-on-a-chip to produce the games contained on the dedicated console. The third console, released in 1978, also used a Pong-on-a-chip, however it contained variations of driving games.
In 1978, Nintendo began developing arcade games with graphics that were produced using computer graphics. The earliest arcade games using discrete-circuitry, where the logic was programmed into the system chips, rather than the later games that contained a central processing unit. The first of these games was Computer Othello, released in June 1978. This was followed, in November 1978, by Block Fever. Block Fever was converted to the Color TV-Game line to be sold to home consumers in 1979. The cases of the Color TV-Game Racing 112 and the Color TV-Game Block Breaker were designed by Shigeru Miyamoto in his first assignments at Nintendo. This was followed by a home conversion of Othello as the last system in the Color TV-Game line titled, Computer TV-Game, which was released in 1980.
In 1980, Sega/Gremlin published a game developed by Nintendo R&D1, which used a Zilog Z80 CPU. It was titled Space Firebird. Another space shooter was developed using the same hardware in 1981, titled Space Demon.
Game & Watch
Gunpei Yokoi got the idea for simple handheld games using a liquid crystal display after watching a man on a bullet train push buttons on an LCD calculator. The result was the Game & Watch series, which was first released in 1980.
Nintendo sold approximately 43.4 million Game & Watch units, in several different variations, worldwide, over the course of eleven years.
Radar Scope, Donkey Kong, and arcade success
In 1980, Nintendo R&D1 developed a game that used a Z80 CPU, titled Radar Scope. As it was popular for a short time in Japan, the president of Nintendo of America, Minoru Arakawa, put in a large order for the game. However, it did not achieve the success in the United States that it had in Japan. Left with thousands of unsold Radar Scope cabinets, Arakawa asked Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi to provide him with a game that could be installed in existing Radar Scope cabinets.
Yamauchi asked Nintendo employees to submit ideas for a new game. Shigeru Miyamoto's idea was chosen, and he worked with other members of Nintendo R&D1 to produce Donkey Kong. Conversion kits were sent to Nintendo of America, and Arakawa, his wife, and a small team performed the conversions. Donkey Kong was released on July 1, 1981. It was a huge success in both Japan and North America, propelling Nintendo to a position as an industry leader.
Family Computer and the Nintendo Entertainment System
In 1983, due to the success of his arcade games, Shigeru Miyamoto was promoted to the chief producer at the newly formed Nintendo Research & Development 4. Development then shifted to Family Computer, also known as the Famicom, which was designed by Masayuki Uemura and Nintendo R&D3, and was released in Japan in 1983.
After the video game crash of 1983, interest in the video game market was tepid. Nintendo looked for ways to alleviate retail fears for the new system, which was renamed the Nintendo Entertainment System outside of Japan. Yokoi developed R.O.B., the Robotic Operating Buddy (titled the Family Computer Robot in Japan). It was marketed as a novel toy, and was sold in the "Deluxe Set", which included the NES console, R.O.B., and a pack-in game supported by R.O.B. titled Gyromite. Only one other game was developed for R.O.B., Stack-Up. Both the Deluxe Set and Stack-Up were released at the NES console launch in North America in 1985.
The Family Computer and Nintendo Entertainment System consoles were a major success, selling 61.91 million units worldwide.
The Game Boy, Nintendo's first handheld video game console that used ROM cartridges, was developed by Satoru Okada, Gunpei Yokoi, and Nintendo R&D1. It was released in Japan and North America in 1989 and in Europe in 1990. It was a monochrome system, which originally had a green background, but was changed to grey in subsequent versions.
It was Nintendo's best selling console at that point, selling 118.69 million units worldwide over its fourteen-year lifespan.
Super Famicom and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Masayuki Uemura and Nintendo R&D3 also developed the successor to the Family Computer, the SNES, which was released in Japan on 1990. It was renamed the Super Nintendo Entertainment System for its overseas release, and was released in North America in 1991 and in Europe in 1992.
The Super Famicom and Super Nintendo Entertainment System consoles were also a success, selling 49.10 million units worldwide.
The Virtual Boy, Nintendo's first major video game console failure
In 1995, Nintendo released another system designed by Gunpei Yokoi, the Virtual Boy, in Japan and North America. It was an ambitious system that displayed graphics in stereoscopic 3D. However, due to high costs in manufacturing the units, the original concept was downscaled, and the released unit was a helmet-mounted stereoscopic 3D unit that displayed red graphics on a black background.
Due to the lackluster game line-up of only 22 games, and reports of gamers getting headaches from using the unit, it was discontinued. It sold less than 770,000 units worldwide and was only available to purchase during a period of less than one year. The Virtual Boy was Gunpei Yokoi's first failure at Nintendo, and he left the company on August 15, 1996, after a thirty-one year tenure.
Unproduced Super Nintendo Entertainment System CD Add-on
Sony announced the PlayStation, which was at the time a CD-ROM addon for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1991. However, since the system would use a format developed by Sony, the Super Disc, Sony would have a large deal of control over the system. As a result, Nintendo tried to negotiate a better deal with Philips. This led to both deals falling through, and the add-on was never released. Philips released the CD-i in 1991, and Sony released the PlayStation as a stand-alone console in 1994.
Opting to go with cartridges rather than CD-ROM media, Nintendo worked on their follow-up to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. They chose cartridges as it would allow Nintendo to have more control over the production of games for the system. Cartridges would also allow games on the Nintendo 64 to load faster than the games on the systems by its competitors.
Released in 1996, the Nintendo 64 was marketed as a 64-bit system to try to gain an edge over their competitors. However, the lack of space when compared to the competition hurt the system. As the cartridges were more expensive to produce than compact disc media, Nintendo also had a hard time getting third-party support for their system. The Nintendo 64 went on to sell more units than Sega worldwide with 32.93 million units compared to the 9.26 million Saturn units sold. However, the Sony PlayStation outsold both systems combined with 102.49 million units.
Pokémon becomes a worldwide smash hit
Although Nintendo, since the 1980s, had been licensing its properties such as Donkey Kong, Link, and Mario to third parties for television, film, and merchandise, the worldwide success of the 1997 television adaptation of the 1996 Game Boy release of Pokémon Red and Green, became a smash hit for Nintendo.
The success of Pokémon lead to merchandise including comics, television series, music, books, and feature films based on the property that continued into the 21st century.
Game Boy Color
Although Nintendo had previously released revisions of its popular Game Boy portable video game console with smaller case sizes, better screens, and fewer batteries, these units had essentially the same hardware powering them.
The first major change in the Game Boy line was the Game Boy Color, which was released in 1998. While most Game Boy games would, with a few exceptions, play on any previous Game Boy console, the color screen of the Game Boy Color meant that most games designed specifically for the Game Boy Color would not play on previous Game Boy systems. The Game Boy Color itself was compatible with previous Game Boy games and would display those games in a choice of color palettes, similar to the Super Game Boy peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Taken together, the Game Boy and the Game Boy Color sold 118.69 million units worldwide, compared to 10.62 million Sega Game Gear units, 3 million Atari Lynx units, and 25,000 SNK Neo Geo Pocket Color units.
In 2001, Nintendo released the GameCube. Because it had lost ground to the PlayStation during the lifespan of the Nintendo 64 due to the larger capacity and lower price of digital optical disc media as opposed to traditional ROM cartridges, Nintendo opted for optical disc media for its GameCube console.
However, unlike Sony's PlayStation 2 Microsoft's Xbox, which used standard DVD media, Nintendo partnered with Panasonic to produce the GameCube Game Disc, a proprietary format based on MiniDVDs which can contain up to 1.46 GB of data.
The GameCube lost ground to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. This was partially due to the wide adoption of the PlayStation 2, and to a lesser extent, the Xbox, because they could be used as a low-cost DVD player as well as a video game console.
22 million GameCube units were sold worldwide, compared to 9.13 million Sega Dreamcast units, 24 million Xbox units, and 155 million PlayStation 2 units.
Satoru Iwata becomes president
He became a forward-facing president of the company with a series of "Iwata Asks" interviews, which were translated for a worldwide audience, beginning in 2006. In these interviews, he and his colleagues discussed historical information, as well as development information, and personal information about Nintendo, its developers, its hardware, and its games.
Current Nintendo development divisions
|Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development||2015-present||Formed as a result of a merger of Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development and Nintendo Software Planning & Development.|
|Nintendo Platform Technology Development||2015-present||Formed as a result of a merger of Nintendo System Development Division, Nintendo Integrated Research & Development, and Nintendo Research & Engineering Development.|
|Nintendo Software Technology Corporation||1998-present||Subsidiary based in North America.|
|Retro Studios||1998-present||Formed as a joint venture between Nintendo and Jeff Spangenberg. Nintendo purchased controlling interest in the company in 2002.|
|Monolith Soft||1999-present||Formed as a subsidiary of Namco. Purchased by Nintendo in 2007.|
|1-Up Studio||2000-present||Formed as Brownie Brown. Renamed 1-Up Studio in 2013.|
|NDcube||2000-present||Formed as a joint venture between Nintendo and Dentsu. Nintendo purchased controlling interest in the company in 2010.|
|iQue||2002-present||Formed as a joint venture between Nintendo and Wei Yen. Nintendo purchased controlling interest in the company in 2013.|
|Nintendo European Research & Development||2003-present||Formed as ActImagine. Purchased by Nintendo and renamed NERD in 2011.|
|Nintendo Network Service Database||2009-present||Formed as Wii no Ma, running the Wii channel of the same name with Dentsu. Renamed Nintendo NST in 2012.|
Former Nintendo development divisions
|Nintendo Games||1964-1970||Staff members of the Nintendo Games department were reassigned to Nintendo Research & Development 1.|
|Nintendo Research & Development 1||1970-2003||Staff members of Nintendo R&D1 were reassigned to Nintendo SPD and Nintendo EAD.|
|Nintendo Research & Development 2||1972-2003||Staff members of Nintendo R&D2 were reassigned to Nintendo SPD.|
|Nintendo Research & Development 3||1974-2003||Staff members of Nintendo R&D3 were reassigned to Nintendo IRD and Nintendo RED.|
|Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development||1983-2015||Formed as Nintendo R&D4. Renamed Nintendo EAD in 1989. Merged with Nintendo SPD to become Nintendo EPD in 2015.|
|Nintendo System Development Division||1997-2015||Formed as Special Planning & Development. Renamed Network Service Development in 2008. Renamed Network Business & Development in 2011. |
Renamed System Development in 2013.
Merged with Nintendo IRD to become Nintendo PTD in 2015.
|Nintendo Integrated Research & Development||2003-2015||Founded following the split of Nintendo R&D3. Merged with NSD and Nintendo RED to become Nintendo PTD in 2015.|
|Nintendo Research & Engineering Development||2003-2015||Founded following the split of Nintendo R&D3. Merged with NSD and Nintendo IRD to become Nintendo PTD in 2015.|
|Nintendo Software Planning & Development||2003-2015||Formed as a result of a merger of Nintendo R&D1 and Nintendo R&D2. Merged with Nintendo EAD to become Nintendo EPD in 2015.|
Arcade hardware by Nintendo
Home computers and video game consoles by Nintendo
|Name||Released||Added to Museum|
|Color TV-Game||1977 - 1980||Color TV-Game Block Breaker: May 26, 2018|
|JP: Family Computer (Famicom)
WW: Nintendo Entertainment System
|Nintendo Entertainment System: November 21, 2017|
|JP: Super Famicom
WW: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
|Not Added Yet|
|Nintendo 64||1996||January 20, 2018|
|GameCube||2001||January 8, 2018|
|Wii||2006||November 8, 2010|
|Wii U||2012||November 20, 2017|
|Nintendo Switch||2017||July 29, 2017|
Miniature dedicated consoles by Nintendo
|Name||Released||Added to museum|
|NA: NES Classic Edition
EU: Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System
JP: Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer
JP: Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer - Weekly Shonen Jump 50th Anniversary Version
|NA: June 22, 2017|
JP: August 10, 2017
Shonen Jump: June 10, 2019
|NA: Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition
EU: Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
JP: Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Famicom
|2017||JP: October 31, 2017|
NA: March 16, 2018
Handheld video game consoles by Nintendo
|Name||Released||Added to museum|
|Game & Watch||1980 - 1991||Not Added Yet|
|Game Boy||1989||Not Added Yet|
|Game Boy Color||1998||Not Added Yet|
|Game Boy Advance||2001||September 18, 2017|
|Nintendo DS||2004||Not Added Yet|
|Nintendo DSi||2008||November 3, 2018|
|2011||3DS XL: March 17, 2014|
|New Nintendo 3DS
New Nintendo 2DS
|2014||New 2DS XL: February 1, 2018|
|Nintendo Switch||2017||July 29, 2017|
Video game peripherals by Nintendo
|Title||Release||Required system||Added to Museum||Notes|
|JP: Beam Gun Series Gun
|NA: November 18, 2017||Light gun based on the Beam Gun toy line.|
|Family Computer Disk System||1986: JP||Famicom||Not Added yet||Disk drive that used proprietary floppy disks called disk cards.|
|Super Scope||1992||SNES||Not Added yet||A large light gun that resembled a bazooka.|
|Super Game Boy
Super Game Boy 2
|Not Added yet||A cartridge adapter that was compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. |
The Super Game Boy 2, with 2-player link port support, was only released in Japan.
|Satellaview||1995: JP||Super Famicom||Not Added yet||Satellite modem that downloaded games from Japan's Broadcast Satellite network.|
|Nintendo e-Reader||2002||Game Boy Advance||September 18, 2017||Scanner for cards containing dot codes of games, added features for games, or emulated NES games.|
|Game Boy Player||2003||GameCube||January 8, 2018||Supported Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games.|