Masayuki Uemura, video game pioneer behind popular Nintendo consoles, dies at 78

Masayuki Uemura, a Japanese home video game pioneer whose Nintendo consoles sold millions of units worldwide, has died, according to Kyoto University where he taught. He was 78 years old.

Uemura, the primary architect behind Nintendo Co.’s pioneering home game consoles, died Monday, Ritsumeikan University said in a statement. The cause of his death has not been revealed.

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

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.

A person plays Tetris on the Nintendo Entertainment System in New York in June 1990. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

The Nintendo Entertainment System, as it was known, hit the United States in 1985 and eventually became a global sensation with more than 60 million consoles sold worldwide, bringing international recognition to a company that previously made consoles. traditional Japanese card games, other playing cards and toys. .

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. “May he rest in peace.”

Timothy C. Mayo