Masaya Nakamura, founder of Namco (now Bandai Namco), has passed away at the age of 91.
Nakamura founded Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955. The company specialized in building children’s rides for department stores and became Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company in the 70s. ‘NAMMCo’ broadened its business to include arcade machines, and Nakamura purchased Atari’s unsuccessful Japan division by outbidding rival Sega. While this allowed them to distribute Atari arcade games, they also hired software engineers to create their own.
Namco produced some of the most popular titles of the golden age of arcade games. In 1979, the game Galaxian was created to compete with Taito’s Space Invaders, and spawned the popular Galaga in 1981. Several of Namco’s popular franchises were created during the 80s, including Dig Dug and Xevious, but Pac-Man was their runaway hit. Developed by Tōru Iwatani, designer of Namco’s first game, Gee Bee, it stood out from the abundance of shooters at the time. Although Nakamura knew it would be successful, he had no idea it would become a cultural phenomenon.
In 2002, Nakamura transitioned from CEO to an honorary adviser role for Bandai Namco, according to The New York Times. His leadership and initiative had a considerable effect on the gaming industry.
Press release: http://www.bandainamco.co.jp/cgi-bin/releases/index.cgi/file/view/5616?entry_id=5145
Wikipedia sources: Masaya Nakamura (Namco), Namco, Pac-Man, Galaga, Golden age of arcade video games