Hiroshi Yamauchi, the imaginative technocrat who turned Nintendo into a video game leader, died on Thursday in Kyoto, Japan. He was 85.

Yamauchi died as a result of complications stemming from a bout of pneumonia, according to Nintendo, reported The New York Times.

In 1949, Yamauchi took over running Nintendo from his grandfather. At the time, Nintendo was a playing card company that was in decline, and Yamauchi was in search of a way to revolution the family business. After pushing a number of different products, including light-shooting toy guns, Yamauchi turned to arcade games.

Nintendo, with Yamauchi at the helm, developed lasting hits with Donkey Kong and Mario Bros, which he then parlayed into a successful home video game product. By 1983, Nintendo released their first console, which quickly became the best-selling device of its kind due to its unmatched quality and the engaging games that could be played upon it. Nintendo continued to be a leader, releasing Gameboys and new consoles such as the Nintendo 64, the Cube and Wii.


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Yamauchi stepped down from Nintendo in 2002, and passed the torch to current Nintendo president Satoru Iawata.

Yamauchi is survived by two daughters and a son. His wife, Michiko, predeceased him last year.

– Chelsea Regan

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