Remembrances
2:48 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Man Who Made Nintendo Into A Video Game Empire Dies

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 5:07 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We're going to keep playing in the world of videogames now and hit pause to remember one man's life.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME NOISES)

SIEGEL: Hiroshi Yamauchi.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME NOISES)

SIEGEL: Yamauchi was the president of Nintendo for more than 50 years. He died Thursday in Japan, at the age of 85. Yamauchi oversaw the company's transformation, from manufacturing playing cards to producing video games. And he helped make Nintendo the household name it is today.

DAVID SHEFF: You know, Nintendo means "in heaven's hand," and it was a philosophy that he completely ignored.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

That's David Sheff, author of the book "Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World."

SHEFF: It was all about control for him. He was a brilliant, brilliant businessman, incredibly ruthless. Had a special knack for picking talent, which is why - really, that's ultimately why Nintendo succeeded.

CORNISH: Indeed, under Yamauchi's leadership, Nintendo created some of its most famous characters - like Donkey Kong.

(SOUNDBITE OF "DONKEY KONG" THEME MUSIC)

SIEGEL: And Zelda.

(SOUNDBITE OF "THE LEGEND OF ZELDA" THEME MUSIC)

CORNISH: And, of course, Mario.

(SOUNDBITE OF "SUPER MARIO BROS." THEME MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Because of Nintendo's success, Yamauchi became one of the richest men in Japan. He also owned a majority stake in the Seattle Mariners, making the baseball team the first in the major leagues to have non-North American ownership.

CORNISH: In 2002, Yamauchi stepped down as president of Nintendo to assume a more advisory role. But we remember him today as the leader who took the video game company to the next level.

(SOUNDBITE OF "SUPER MARIO BROS." THEME MUSIC)

SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.