Masayuki Uemura, lead architect behind Nintendo’s iconic NES console, has died : NPR

Masayuki Uemura designed the NES’s cartridge game system.

TENGKU BAHAR/AFP via Getty Images


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TENGKU BAHAR/AFP via Getty Images


Masayuki Uemura designed the NES’s cartridge game system.

TENGKU BAHAR/AFP via Getty Images

The video gaming community is mourning the loss of one of its early pioneers, Masayuki Uemura.

Uemura, whose death on Monday at the age of 78 was just announced, was the lead architect behind the Nintendo Entertainment System [NES] and its successor the Super Nintendo Entertainment System [SNES].

Uemura was born in Tokyo in 1943 and became an electrical engineer. In 1972, he joined Nintendo and was soon working on the predecessor to early hit game “Duck Hunt”.

In the early ’80s, he was tasked with creating a home console to rival Atari, and Nintendo’s president asked Uemura come up with a game using cartridges.

The result was the Famicom, short for “family computer”, which was renamed the NES when it hit the U.S. market in 1985 at a price of about $150.

Exclusive titles like Super Mario and Donkey Kong help the NES dominate the video game market throughout the 80s and 90s.

CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images


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CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images


Exclusive titles like Super Mario and Donkey Kong help the NES dominate the video game market throughout the 80s and 90s.

CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

With games like Super Mario and Donkey Kong, the NES dominated the home video game industry in the ’80s and ’90s, selling more than 60 million units globally and effectively reviving the then-struggling home video game industry.

Uemura eventually retired from Nintendo in 2004 and went on to become the director of Game Studies at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto.

The university will hold a memorial for Uemura at a date not yet determined.

The audio version of this story was produced by Gabe O’Connor and edited by Justine Kenin.

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