It might seem a little crazy to think that Nintendo has existed for 127 years, but it’s completely true. Believe it or not though, our favorite company wasn’t always producing colorful screens filled with the red hatted, high jumping plumber and the likes of Link – and that’s probably why Nintendo’s presence seems much more recent. In all actuality, however, Nintendo’s history extends far into other reaches of the universe, outside of gaming.

A look back at Nintendo’s journey

Nintendo first started off in the realm of producing Hanafudu playing cards, a European-style substitute that Nintendo’s founder Fusajiro Yamauchi popularized in Japan through Nintendo Koppai, the first Hanafuda card shop in Kyoto, Japan. After a few decades under the leadership of Fusajiro and his adopted son-in-law, Keneda, Hiroshi Yamauchi became the company’s third president. At this point, the playing card business became stale and Yamauchi realized that this very specialized venture had its share of limitations. He decided to expand the company’s horizons to other areas of the entertainment business. In the 1960s and 1970s, the company experimented with some extremely interesting ventures, to say the least. From food products like instant rice to public services like taxi businesses, you would never think that this very abstract past paved the way for today’s worldwide Pokémon GO phenomenon – but it did. And through a lot of trial and error, Nintendo eventually turned back to entertainment for its main focus, with toys and games at the heart of everything.

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Eventually, by the 1970s, Nintendo had embraced its calling as an entertainment company. It was during this period of time that the world was introduced to innovative creations like the Magnavox Odyssey, and by the 1980s, the Game & Watch. Fast forward past the events leading up to and within the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo was able to pick up the pieces by giving the world something new, something fresh… and something very special. The NES.

Here and now

So, why exactly does it feel so strange to think about Nintendo turning 127 years old today? Personally, I think it’s because character staples like Mario and Link didn’t exist until the very last part of the walk down memory lane above. Mario and Link are what we, today, associate Nintendo with, despite its very long existence in the world of not only gaming, but culture, too. Think about it: Nintendo’s roots first formed when its founder simply became interested in a European card game, and it was because of that cultural influence that he ignited the road to the now-present reign of pixels and beloved characters. From Europe to Asia to the Americas, Nintendo has truly created an ongoing sensation that connects us all with a strong, positive passion.

Thank you, Nintendo, for bringing us together – and happy 127th birthday!

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Written by Lauren Ganos
Creative Director, Managing Editor

Designer and writer by day, gamer by night, Lauren dreams big when it comes to creative endeavors. Perhaps that's why she's taken on the roles of creative director and managing editor for Nintendo Wire. If she had a video game superhero alias, it might just be The Visionary, a true keeper of imaginative order.

Lauren Ganos