Did you know that Nintendo started out as a company selling playing cards?
These days, Nintendo is best known as the video game company that gave gamers mario, The Legend of Zelda, animal crossing, Kirby, and more. But did you know that Nintendo didn’t start out as a video game company?
In fact, when the company launched its first venture, it wasn’t even tied to technology. Can you guess what they sold at first? No, it wasn’t clothes. Nor was it a piece of furniture.
It was playing cards.
Nintendo sold playing cards at first
Nintendo was born on September 23, 1889 in Kyoto, Japan. Yes, you read that right. Nintendo is actually 133 years old at the time of writing.
Around this time, Nintendo founder Fusajiro Yamauchi sold what is known in Japan as “Hanafuda”. According to a Business Insider article, Hanafuda is a type of Japanese playing cards.
“The cards had splashes of yellow and red with bold black lines, depicting songbirds, flowers and cherry blossoms used for several games – including gambling,” the Business article states. Insider.
By the early 1900s, his company was considered one of the largest card-selling companies in the country. In fact, according to Nintendo’s official website, the company began manufacturing and selling its first Western-style playing cards in Japan in 1902.
The Business Insider article also mentions that Nintendo has also ventured into other businesses, such as ramen noodles and taxi services. However, playing cards remained his most important early product.
In 1953, Nintendo became the first company to successfully mass-produce plastic playing cards in the country. Some of those cards even featured Disney characters, according to Business Insider.
In 1961, she was able to open a second branch in Tokyo. A year later, the company was able to list shares on the second section of the Osaka stock exchange and the Kyoto stock exchange.
The transition to video games and consoles
Nintendo as we know it today didn’t start happening until the 1970s.
According to Nintendo, it was in 1971 when the company created an entertainment system called the Laser Clay Shooting System. Nintendo had to wait four years before it could release its first home video game machines, called TV Game 15 and TV Game 6.
While Nintendo started selling arcade video games in 1978, it wasn’t until three years later that donkey kongone of the most popular Nintendo video game titles today has been released.
Nintendo didn’t just produce video games that people can play. They also produced the consoles that people could play on. In 1983, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), also known as the Family Computer System in Japan, was launched.
And if you wonder just when mario appeared in Nintendo’s timeline, it was actually in 1985, according to Nintendo’s website.
Nintendo also continued to produce video game systems in the 80s and 90s. The Game Boy was launched in 1989 while the Nintendo 64 hit the market in 1996.
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(Photo: Nintendo of America via Getty Images)
Since 2011, Nintendo has generally announced its current projects via live events. This makes Nintendo Direct their official channel for showcasing new titles and sharing video game clips.
Since its birth 133 years ago, it goes without saying that Nintendo has come a long way. Many of its video game titles are still played today and new additions have been made to its library. These additions include animal crossing and Splatoon.
Nintendo has continued to create its own video game consoles. The Nintendo Switch, which was launched in 2017, is the company’s latest upcoming console.
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