Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man credited for transforming Nintendo from a playing card company into the gaming leviathan that they are today, has passed way at the age of 85.
Yamauchi served as Nintendo's President for half a century, from 1949 until 2002, when he stepped aside but continued to hold an executive advisory role until his death.
It was Yamauchi who spearheaded the restructuring of Nintendo into separate, competitive R&D departments, designed to measure themselves against their peers in the pursuit of innovation. We have Yamauchi, too, to thak for bringing Gunpei Yokoi and Shigeru Miyamoto to the fore at Nintendo, without whom much of the company's success might never have been achieved.
Yamauchi handed the reins of the company over to Satoru Iwata in 2002, but remained as chairman of the board of directors until 2005, when he finally retired, refusing his million-dollar pension because he felt Nintendo might be able to use the money better elsewhere.
"Hiroshi Yamauchi transformed a run-of the-mill trading card company into an entertainment empire in video games," said Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Games Workshop and former chairman of publisher Eidos.
"He understood the social value of play, and economic potential of electronic gaming. Most importantly he steered Nintendo on its own course and was unconcerned by the actions of his competitors. He was a true visionary." [BBC]