Nintendo console designer goes offline


Masayuki Uemura wasted the time of millions

The designer of the first Nintendo Entertainment System console, Masayuki Uemura, has died. He was 78 years old.

Born in Tokyo in 1943, Uemura studied electronic engineering at the Chiba Institute of Technology and joined Nintendo in 1971.

Video game consoles enjoyed a moment of popularity in the early 1980s, but the market collapsed due to shoddy quality control and uninspiring software that failed to deliver the thrills arcade hits like Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

Tons of unsold game cartridges ended up in landfills and retailers decided that home gaming systems had no future. But in 1985, the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States changed the industry forever.

Uemura was commissioned by then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi in 1981 to develop a home console for games like Donkey Kong, which was a huge hit in the United States at the time but only available for arcade use.

The so-called Famicom game system came to the Japanese market in 1983 as Nintendo’s first cartridge console, allowing users to play popular games in cassette format. The improved Super Famicom was released in Japan in 1990.

The unassuming gray box with its distinctive controllers became a staple for an entire generation of kids and prompted Nintendo’s virtual monopoly on the industry for the better part of a decade as competitors pulled out of the market in response to corporate dominance.

The NES was not the first video game console. The quality of the games that became available for the NES, including titles like Super Mario Brothers, made it far more appealing than previous boxes and this led to its commercial success. These games would not have been possible without the hardware designed by Uemura.

After retiring from Nintendo, Uemura taught game studies from 2004 at Ritsumeikan University in the former Japanese capital, which is also home to Nintendo.

“We express our sincere appreciation for Mr. Uemura’s enormous contributions to the development of the game industry by introducing a variety of video game consoles, including home computers,” Ritsumeikan University said in a statement.

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