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The History of Nintendo Part 1 - From Playing Cards to Electronic Toys


The Nintendo Corporation's domination of the gaming industry didn't start with their first video game console. As a matter of fact they had already established themselves as a quality game company almost 70 years before the first video game was invented. Not only did Nintendo bring back the popularity of video games after the industry crash of 1983 , but they first established themselves in the 19th century when they brought back the popularity of card games to Japan.

When Japan cut off its relations with the Western World in 1633 there was a ban put on all foreign playing cards as they encouraged illegal gambling. Playing cards were extremely popular at the time (mainly because of the gambling) so it wasn't long before the Japanese started creating their own home grown card games. The first of these were designed for a game called Unsun Karuta, but eventually the game started also being used for a form of gambling, so the government put a ban on them as well. A volleying of new card games, followed by a subsequent government bans went back and forth over the next century.

Finally in the 19th century a new card game, Hanafuda, was invented which used images instead of numbers, making it difficult for gambling. The government relaxed its laws on playing cards allowing the Hanafuda cards to be sold. Unfortunately the constant banning of card games and the lack of use for gambling took its toll and the new card game received a lackluster response, until a young entrepreneur, Fusajiro Yamauchi, came on the scene.

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