Do you know what kind of company Nintendo is?

Nintendo has a global presence and a large fan base with its home video game consoles. Do you know what this company originally was? Cement, taxis, processed foods, and even love hotels. It was involved in a variety of businesses on its way to becoming a leading household video game console company.

In this article, I would like to talk about the history of Nintendo.



When the company was founded, its main business was selling cement, and its subsidiary business manufactured playing cards

Nintendo was founded in 1889, but four years earlier, in 1885, two companies were founded. The main one was a cement wholesaler. Sales of cement were favorable due to rapid urban development.

Another business was the manufacture of “hanafuda” (Japanese playing cards). Have you heard of hanafuda? Nintendo manufactured this card game that originated in Japan, in which players compete to win cards depicting seasonal flowers. The hanafuda business was going well as the company partnered with the top tobacco company in Japan at the time.

If home video game consoles are entertainment for children, Hanafuda is entertainment for adults. However, it is gambling. This is where the history of Nintendo as an entertainment manufacturer begins.

Incidentally, they still sell hanafuda and some are sold in collaboration with Mario, the popular Nintendo character. It might make a good Japanese souvenir.



Legendary president appears after company separation and transfer

After company succession, business and other operations were transferred, making cement and hanafuda completely separate companies. Then, in 1947, a joint stock company called Marufuku Corporation was established, and in 1963, the trade name was changed to Nintendo, eventually becoming the current form of the company.

In 1949, Hiroshi Yamauchi (then 22 years old) became president, succeeding from his grandfather. He made Nintendo a legendary company and would continue as president until 2002. If you like Nintendo, you may know his name.

Just when you thought the Nintendo as you know it was taking shape, you couldn’t be more wrong.


Mysterious diversification from manufacturing Japan’s first plastic playing cards
In 1953, the company began manufacturing the first plastic playing cards in Japan. This grew to a monopoly in the country, but sales of playing cards did not grow as much as expected. There was not a very large demand in Japan.

From there, Nintendo’s path strayed. In 1960, the company created a subsidiary and developed a taxi operation business. In 1963, the company started a processed food business producing furikake, instant ramen, curry, and so on. However, none of those products did well. It also operated a love hotel business. More entertainment for adults.

Aiming to be an indoor gaming company

In 1966, a decision was made to pursue a course in becoming an indoor gaming company. This is when entertainment for children finally came into play. The company concentrated on the game and toy business, but after a few years of successes and then slumps, the creation of long-selling products was difficult to achieve.



Entering the video game and arcade game market

I’m sure many of you know that from around this point Nintendo started selling the legendary Donkey Kong as an arcade game. This was a big hit, and the Game Watch, a simple handheld video game console was introduced, which also became popular.

Donkey Kong became very popular in the U.S. and Canada and was the first step toward Nintendo’s worldwide recognition.

I was born in 1973, and thinking about how many hours I spent playing with this Game Watch makes me realise how much I’m indebted to Nintendo.



Finally, the appearance of the home video game console
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The Nintendo Entertainment System (Japanese name: Family Computer) was introduced in 1983 and became a huge hit.

Since then, as you all know, the company has grown into a global company with a series of hits such as Gameboy and Pocket Monster.

The road to Nintendo becoming the king of home video game consoles became evident due to the multitude of business experiences that it had. It is one thing to stick to one business, but there are also other examples like Nintendo.

I think this business example would be helpful for all of you who are seeking the path of success.


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