Hiroshi Yamauchi attending a news conference in Tokyo in 1999

Visionary Nintendo president dies

A former president of Nintendo who transformed the maker of trading cards into a video game giant has died of pneumonia aged 85.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, who spent more than half a century at the helm of the Japanese company, was the third-generation head of the family-run business, founded in the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto in 1889 as a maker of trading cards, and served as president from 1949 until 2002.

He was still an executive adviser to the company at the time of his death and under his leadership, the company developed the Famicom home game console and the Game Boy handheld player that helped to usher in the era of home game machines.

Yamauchi was listed by Forbes magazine as Japan's richest man just five years ago, when Nintendo was flying high with the launch of the Wii with its motion-sensing controller, although the company's fortunes have since faded as smartphones displace consoles among gamers.

His net worth at that time was estimated at $7.8bn (£4.9bn) and he was ranked 13th on the latest Forbes Japan list released this year, with an estimated net worth of $2.1bn.

Yamauchi bought the Seattle Mariners US major league baseball team in 1992 when the franchise was struggling, although it was later taken over by Nintendo of America.

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