Early Nintendo: With 1966s 'Ultra Hand,' Future Game Boy Inventor Saved The Company
By | September 14, 2019
What's the symbol of Nintendo -- Mario the plumber? True, the little guy with the mustache, and his brother Luigi, and Princess Peach and Bowser... there's a large cast of characters that makes up a Nintendo universe. But we might never have met Mario and co. if not for "Ultra Hand," a plastic toy with an extendable grabber hand.
Long before Nintendo introduced its first gaming system it had a major hit with the “Ultra Hand,” a plastic toy that mesmerized kids and single (ultra) handedly pulled the company out of financial dire straits. Who came up with the idea? And how was this simple toy able to save Nintendo?
Nintendo has been around since 1889
You might be surprised to learn that Nintendo has been around for longer than the airplane. Founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, the company initially traded in playing cards for the first 60 years of its life. In 1956 Yamauchi’s grandson Hiroshi visited card manufacturers in the United States and realized that Nintendo would have only so much success in the card business.
This visit inspired Yamauchi to branch out into new businesses and niche markets that continued to maintain the spirit of the original company. Nintendo changed its business strategy in the early ‘60s but didn’t change its identity.