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The Nintendo Software Technonolgy Corporation (任天堂) (Ninten is translated roughly as "leave luck to heaven" or "in heaven's hands". And do is a common suffix for names of shop or laboratory) was originally founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi[?] to produce handmade hanafuda[?] (Japanese playing cards). In 1950, Hiroshi Yamauchi[?], great-great-grandson of Fusajiro and future president of Nintendo, made a deal with Disney to produce playing cards featuring Disney characters, when Nintendo came to make western-style playing cards as well as hanafuda at that period. These cards sold millions of packs, and made Nintendo enough money to move into other ventures.

By the late 1970s, Nintendo had begun to lose money to electronic game manufacturers such as Atari, and they responded with the "Game & Watch" series (small single-screen LCD games) which were created by the late visionary Gunpei Yokoi, as well as a series of arcade games. One of their arcade games of 1980, Radarscope[?], was a complete and total commercial failure, but they had invested too much money in the project to simply close it and move on; something had to be done to mitigate the damage. Three years prior, Hiroshi Yamauchi had hired Shigeru Miyamoto, the son of a close friend, as Nintendo's first and only internal staff artist. With all of Nintendo's other employees busy with existing projects, Yamauchi summoned the 27-year-old Miyamoto (who had no game designing experience whatsoever) to his office and told him that he was officially responsible for saving Radarscope.

Thus, Miyamoto was left to save Nintendo's most abysmal failure in their 90-year history with a couple of inexperienced programmers, almost no budget, and literally no knowledge of programming himself. Instead of trying to improve Radarscope, he simply discarded the game, and moved to create a new game within the limitations of the existing Radarscope hardware. The game he created, Donkey Kong, would establish Nintendo as a true player in the arcade game world, and set them up for their future success.

The Hardware

  • Game & Watch
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (rest of world) / Famicom (Japan)
    • Famicom Disk System (Japan only) - A large number of stores in Japan had "Disk Writers" with games stored in them that could be downloaded to a non-standard floppy disk for ¥2,000. Very popular in Japan, killed due to advancing technology that rendered the disks obsolete, and later, rampant piracy of said disks.
  • Game Boy - The best-selling videogame system of all time
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System aka Super NES (rest of world) / Super Famicom (Japan)
  • Virtual Boy - The Virtual Boy used a red monochrome 3D virtual reality like system. Fewer than two dozen games were released for it in the United States.
  • Game Boy Color
  • Nintendo 64 - Originally the Ultra 64, this system saw Nintendo fully embrace 3D game worlds, though their refusal to end their use of cartridges, which held less and were more costly than optical media, proved ruinous.
    • 64DD - Only released in Japan, this add-on system's games are on rewriteable disks. Games released include a paint and 3d package, F-Zero X[?], for creating new F-Zero tracks and a few others. An utter commercial failure, many speculated that Nintendo released it only to save face after promoting it pre-emptively for years.
  • Game Boy Advance - The new, more advanced version of the Game Boy. It was upgraded in 2003 with a backlight, a new design, and a new name: The Gameboy Advance SP. The SP stands for SPecial.
  • Nintendo GameCube - Nintendo's next-generation system; uses a proprietary DVD medium to prevent piracy and lock out third-party developers.

The Software and Franchises

Nintendo is known for hard-line stance against emulation of its video game consoles. It claims that mask work copyright protects its Game Paks from the exceptions that United States copyright law otherwise provides for software. Until mid-2002, the company also claims that emulators have no use other than to play pirated video games, contested by some who say emulators such as LoopyNES[?] (for NES) and VisualBoyAdvance[?] (for GBA) have been used to develop and test independently produced software.

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