The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that we know and love had another name when it released in Japan 30 years ago. Originally known as the “FamiCom” (for “Family Computer”), the console was a huge success in Japan before crossing the Pacific and landing in our living rooms as the NES. But
Before Nintendo was Nintendo
Nintendo has been around a lot longer than you might think. It was founded many years before Mario or Donkey Kong, and before the Game & Watch handhelds. Nintendo started well before Shigeru Miyamoto was even born, in fact, and ages before the first electronic transistor.
The Nintendo Company was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi on September 23, 1889. Nintendo originally made Hanafuda cards, a popular game in Japan at the time. The Nintendo Company went on to be involved in several business ventures, as varied as instant rice and love hotels, expanding for 85 years before branching into the budding video game market in 1974.
Nintendo’s had dabbled in electric arcade machines but jumped into electronic gaming when it acquired the distribution rights to Magnavox’s Odyssey home console. By 1977 Nintendo had begun to produce its own electronic gaming hardware, eventually putting out the popular Game & Watch series of standalone handheld games starting in 1980. Following the success of the Game & Watch series and it’s growing arcade business, Nintendo set its sights on a home console.
The FamiCom is Born
The NES “Saves” the Video Game Industry
The Rest is History
Nintendo’s been a household name worldwide since the 80′s thanks to the incredible success of the NES. Franchises born on the 8 bit wonder have endured and found several sequels on each of Nintendo’s home consoles and numerous handhelds. The Famicom/NES gave birth to a gaming empire that continues to put out the hardware and software that the world wants.
While Nintendo’s latest home console, the Wii U, is having a rough go of things so far, its handheld, the 3DS is doing quite well. NES games are still selling like hotcakes on Nintendo’s Virtual Console for both systems, illustrating both the timelessness of Nintendo’s creations and the nostalgic connection so many of us have to that grey box.
On this 30th birthday week, Nintendo, we salute you!