In 1964, 24-year-old Gunpei Yokoi was fresh out of Doshisha University, electronics degree in hand, when he took a job working on an assembly line making Hanafuda playing cards at a small company called Nintendo. He also briefly worked for the company as a janitor. Two years later, the president of the company was touring the factory when he noticed a toy with an extending arm -- something Yokoi had made in his spare time. Later dubbed the Ultra Hand, his creation became the company’s first electronic toy. Yokoi parlayed that success into a prolific career as one of the world’s top game designers. And one of those creations turned out to be his masterpiece, the Game Boy.
But none of this happened overnight. It took Yokoi five years of working at Nintendo to launch his first product and another 19 years before the Game Boy was created.
A guy with a lot of game:
- Later in his career, Yokoi mentored Shigeru Miyamoto, who changed gaming forever with titles such as Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, and Mario Bros.
- Yokoi left Nintendo in 1996 after 31 years with the company. He and some of his former colleagues formed a new company that developed the Bandai WonderSwan handheld gaming machine.
- In 1997, Yokoi rear-ended a truck on an expressway, and when he got out to inspect the damage, he was struck and killed by two passing cars.