September 19, 2013 11:54 am

Former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi dies aged 85

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Hiroshi Yamauchi, a former president of Japan’s Nintendo who turned the company from a small family business into a gaming giant, died on Thursday at the age of 85, according to a company statement.

Mr Yamauchi joined Nintendo, his family’s business that then was making playing cards, in 1949.

Under his watch, the company moved into making mass-produced plastic cards and, from there, to other types of games. According to the company’s history, by 1975 it was making video games for sale in Japan.

Mr Yamauchi oversaw the company until 2002, and at his death he was still its second largest shareholder, with 10 per cent of the outstanding shares.

The company is now at a difficult point in its history, as it deals with the rise of smartphones and tablets as powerful competitors to its dedicated gaming consoles.

His passing follows close on the death of another Japanese businessman who led the postwar transformation of his family’s business from a small manufacturer into a high-tech global giant. Eiji Toyodo, president of Toyota Motor from 1967 to 1981 and chairman for a further 13 years, died on Tuesday, aged 100.

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