The history of Nintendo began in 1889. Its founder was Fusajiro Yamauchi. The company actually started by making gaming cards, but eventually made its mark in the electronic gaming industry.
1950s to the 1960s
The card game Nintendo Koppai (as it was known then) was called Hanafuda. It would become a hit. However the company realized the limits of the playing card game business and decided to expand.
From the 1950s to the early 1970s, the company tried other businesses besides selling cards. These included peddling rice, running a taxi and hotels. All these ventures failed and by the 1960s sales of playing cards went down.
The Mid 1970s and 1980s
The turning point in the history of Nintendo came when they ventured into the toy industry. Initially they weren’t successful but in 1974 obtained the right to sell the Odyssey video game console.
Three years later, Nintendo started making its own small consoles. The company would achieve success when they moved into the emerging video arcade industry.
The first game they released was EVR Race. However it was the 1981 game Donkey Kong that established Nintendo as a force to be reckoned with. Nintendo followed this up not just with more games but with other consoles and devices, such as the Game and Watch.
The Family Computer
The success of Game and Watch would be eclipsed by the Family Computer, which would change the history of Nintendo. The home video game console was released in America in 1985 as the Nintendo Entertainment System.
This was followed by the Super FamiCom and the Game Boy in 1989. The Super FamiCom (or SNES) sold nearly 50 million units. For a while its biggest rival was the Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis). However the SNES ended up selling more consoles.
The Nintendo 64 and Beyond
In 1996, the Nintendo 64 came out. It came in June 23 in Japan and sold half a million copies in the first 24 hours. It was released in September in the US that same year. The console was a huge hit In the US as well. Its most significant feature was the 3D graphics, which was revolutionary at the time.
The history of Nintendo in the 2000s began with the release of the Game Boy Advance. It was quickly followed by the issuance of the GameCube. In 2004 the company produced the Nintendo DS, which had touch screen capabilities.
In 2006, its latest console, the Wii, was released. In terms of sales it was a bigger success than the GameCube, which had lagged behind Sony’s Playstation and Microsoft’s Xbox.
The company has been dogged by controversies and lawsuits. In 2002, it was found guilty by the European Commission of predatory pricing and was fined nearly 50 million Euros. It has also been accused of price fixing in other countries. Even during the 1980s, it also had legal battles with Atari.
The history of Nintendo is one of the most colorful in the video game industry. Whatever controversies have come its way, it continues to sell millions of games and consoles and has legions of followers.