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Nintendo gaming visionary Hiroshi Yamauchi dies aged 85

The Japanese company's former president is credited with turning Nintendo into the gaming giant is it today.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man credited with turning Nintendo into the video game giant it is today, has died aged 85, the BBC reports.

Born in Kyoto, Japan in 1927, Yamauchi worked in a military factory during World War II, going to university to study law once the war ended. He became president of Nintendo in 1949, at a time when the company was still busy making playing cards.

In the late 60s, the Japanese businessman led the House of Mario into the world of toy-making with the surreal Ultra Hand -- an extendable claw-grip that lets you pick up objects a little distance away from you.

Yamauchi later oversaw the launch of Nintendo's first ever games console, the Color TV Game 6. From arcade cabinets to the NES to the SNES, the Game Boy and N64, Yamauchi was in charge for all of Nintendo's most famous gaming triumphs, over a period that saw Nintendo become a dominant force in gaming.

Yamauchi stepped down as president in 2002, a year after the Nintendo Gamecube went on sale, remaining as chairman of the board of directors until 2005.

Today Nintendo is in shakier shape, having seen a lukewarm reception for its latest Wii U console, and increased competition from Microsoft and Sony, who are both releasing new consoles this year. After a weak start, its 3DS handheld is selling like hotcakes, however, so it's possible the tablet-powered console will undergo a resurgence.

Yamauchi was in charge of Nintendo for a total of 53 years, and was the company's second-largest shareholder at the time of his death.

Do you have fond memories of Nintendo consoles built under Yamauchi-san's time as president? Pop your thoughts in the comments below, or on our Facebook wall.

Image credit: therichest