As we know it today, Nintendo wasn’t into consumer electronics for its first 80 years. But as the Nintendo name is commonly assumed to mean ‘leave luck to heaven‘, the company did just that. March 10 is annually celebrated as Mario Day by the fans of the media franchise and hence in this week’s Trivia Thursday let’s take a look at how this company evolved into what it is today by adapting to the growing market needs.
Crux of the Matter
In this week’s Trivia Thursday, let us explore the evolution of Nintendo.
Nintendo was founded on 23 September 1889 by craftsman Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce and distribute Hanafuda, a Japanese variety of cards.
With a favorable start for the first few decades, the company faced many challenges from 1933 to 1963 , for example – the aftermaths of World War II, decline in sales of traditional cards and national sentiments on foreign collaborations.
Trying Out New Ideas
As a result, from 1963 Nintendo started investing in several business lines which were far from its traditional market and for the most part were unsuccessful. Among these ventures were packages of instant rice, a chain of love hotels, and a taxi service.
In search of other markets, Nintendo increased its investment in the Research & Development department. During this period, Nintendo built a new production plant outside of Kyoto and distributed classic tabletop games popular across Japan such as chess, shogi, and mahjong.
Finding The Right Note?
The early 1970s represented a watershed moment in Nintendo’s history as it released Japan’s first electronic toy—the Nintendo Beam Gun, an optoelectronic pistol. In total, more than a million units were sold.
After producing similar products throughout the 1970s, in 1980, one of the first handheld video game systems, the Game & Watch, was created by Nintendo from the technology used in portable calculators. It became one of the company’s most successful products, with over 43.4 million units sold worldwide during its production period.
Donkey Kong and Mario
Nintendo’s success in arcade games grew in 1981 with the release of Donkey Kong, which was one of the first video games that allowed the player character to jump. The character, Jumpman, would later become Mario and Nintendo’s official mascot.
The Game Changer
The Famicom was released in Japan in July 1983 and its success was such that in 1984, it surpassed the market share held by
To differentiate the Famicom from its competitors in America, Nintendo opted to redesign the Famicom as an “entertainment system” compatible with “Game Paks“, a euphemism for cartridges, and with a design reminiscent of a VCR.
The resulting product was the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, which was released in North America in 1985.
Production of the NES lasted until 1995, and production of the Famicom lasted until 2003. In total, around 62 million Famicom and NES consoles were sold worldwide.
Nintendo – The Video Game Company
After this, products like Gameboy, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Gameboy Color, Game cube and Gameboy Advance were released in the late 1990s and early 2000s which competed with the upcoming Playstations and Xbox Consoles.