Tokyo – Hiroshi Yamauchi, 85, the former Nintendo president that helped to change a playing card company into a video game empire, died Thursday from complications with pneumonia, the company said.
Yamauchi, who at the time of his death still served as an executive adviser to the company, was the third-generation head of the family-run business, founded in Kyoto in 1889. He had served as its president from 1949 until 2002.
Yamauchi directed the launch of the Famicom home game console and the Game Boy handheld player, which laid the foundations for a video game industry now dominated by the Nintendo's Wii, Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox systems.
According to a report in Forbes, he was Japan’s richest man, worth $7.8 billion, five years ago. His position had slipped to 13th on this year’s list at $2.1 billion.
Yamauchi bought the Seattle Mariners U.S. major league baseball team in 1992, before it was taken over by the Nintendo of America company.