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Hiroshi Yamauchi, the great-grandson of Nintendo’s founder Fusajiro Yamauchi, has died of pneumonia. He passed away early this morning at a hospital in central Japan. In a statement from Nintendo, the company mourns the  “loss of the former Nintendo president Mr Hiroshi Yamauchi, who sadly passed away this morning.” Nintendo also confirmed Mr. Yamauchi’s funeral will take place on Sunday.

Yamauchi took over as president of Nintendo in 1949, transforming the small trading-card company to one of the greatest names in home entertainment. His leadership lasted over 50 years, stepping down in 2002.

During his reign as president, Nintendo entered arcades with Donkey Kong, and then moved to consoles, launching the NES, Gameboy, Super NES, Nintendo 64, and Gamecube.

Yamauchi worked with Shigeru Miyamoto, who brought us Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., Star Fox and of course The Legend of Zelda.

Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Games Workshop, stated:

“He understood the social value of play, and economic potential of electronic gaming. Most importantly he steered Nintendo on its own course and was unconcerned by the actions of his competitors. He was a true visionary.”

After stepping down from president, he served on Nintendo’s board of directors until 2005. At the time of his death, he was Nintendo’s second-largest shareholder and one of the richest men in Japan.

Source: BBC News