Longtime Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi Dead at 85

Yamauchi was instrumental in transforming Nintendo from a playing-card manufacturer into a videogame giant

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Former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man who ushered Super Mario, Donkey Kong into the world, died Thursday. Yamauchi, who died of pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan, was 85.

Yamauchi, who served as president of Ninentdo from 1949 to 2002, helped transform the company, which founded in 1889 as a playing-card manufacturer, into a giant in the videogame industry. Among the company-defining moves that Yamauchi made was hiring videogame designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who in turn spawned Super Mario and Donkey Kong.

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Yamauchi stayed on as an adviser to the company after his 2002 departure. He was also an owner of the Seattle Mariners baseball team for a stint, selling the team to Nintendo’s U.S. unit in 2004.

He’s survived by a son,  Katsuhito Yamauchi. His funeral is scheduled to take place at Nintendo on Sunday.