Masayuki Uemura, the legendary designer and engineer behind Nintendo's early home gaming consoles, died Monday at the age of 78.
Uemura played a central role in the creation of the Nintendo Famicom and Super Famicom during the 1980s. The Famicon and Super Famicon are also known as the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, respectively.
Uemura's death was announced by Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, where Uemura worked as a visiting professor and research advisor in the university's game research center as recently as this year. Ritsumeikan's announcement lists Uemura as the development manager for the NES and Super Nintendo.
The NES debuted in 1983 and kicked off a worldwide gaming phenomenon. Nintendo eventually sold tens of millions of NES and SNES units across the globe. This was the first time many gamers were exposed to the now-household names of Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda, just to name a few.
Uemura left Nintendo in 2004 and spent the remaining years of his professional life teaching game design to new generations as a professor at Ritsumeikan.