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(established 1889)

The Nintendo Company had its roots in the manufacture of Japanese playing cards in Kyoto in the late 19th century. One hundred years later it was the world's leading force in interactive entertainment systems and software. Nintendo has sold more than 1 billion video games, producing and marketing home‐centred video‐game systems such as Nintendo 64 and Game Boy. Although the company has established a prominent position in the field, the company remained as a manufacturer and distributor of playing cards before the Second World War. However, having begun mass production of plastic cards in the 1950s, it extended its product range to include children's cards featuring Walt Disney characters. This move into a new sector of the consumer market place was highly significant in the company's future spectacular growth. Significantly, in 1963 the company changed its name from the Nintendo Playing Card Co. to Nintendo Co. Ltd. and commenced the manufacture of games. By the mid‐1970s these were becoming increasingly sophisticated having incorporated the potential of electronics technology, video‐recording, and microprocessors, innovations nurtured through a close working relationship with Mitsubishi Electric. This cooperation resulted in home‐use and coin‐operated games using microcomputers, the latter involving the launch of the highly successful game Donkey Kong (1981). Also important in marketing terms was the establishment of a US subsidiary in 1980, which became Nintendo of America Inc. based in Seattle. The 1980s saw dramatic developments with the marketing of the American version of the Family Entertainment System and the Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda games in 1985 and 1987 respectively. Economically of high importance to the company was the Game Boy that became the most popular hand‐held computer gaming system in the world, its characteristics of portability, miniaturization, and entertainment appealing to both children and adults. Through skilful marketing, the rapid expansion of games titles, and developments in chip technology the company's success continued to grow, reinforced by the launch of the 16‐bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. The 64‐bit Nintendo was launched in Japan in 1996, with more than half a million games sold on the first day alone; the American launch sold out its entire shipment of 350,000 in three days.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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