Masayuki Uemura, the lead architect and essentially the creator of the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System or NES internationally) and Super Famicom (Super NES or SNES), died at the age of 78 on December 6, as announced by his employer, Ritsumeikan University (via Kotaku and Nintendo Life).
Uemura joined Nintendo in 1972 and in the late 1970s was chosen to lead up the newly established Nintendo R&D2, opposite his mentor, Gunpei Yokoi, in R&D1. In R&D2, Uemura initially worked on rudimentary Color TV-Games, games that plugged into your TV. However, in 1981, a call from then-Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi directed Uemura to start working on a home video game console that could play interchangeable games. Once Uemura realized the next day that it was a sincere request and not just drunken rambling, he spent roughly the next six months dissecting existing video game consoles and studying every aspect of their design. The Famicom / NES was the final result (and if you were wondering, Famicom’s color scheme comes from a scarf Yamauchi liked, as well as the color of a TV antenna).
Following NES, Masayuki Uemura and R&D2 would go on to design SNES as well. If you’re on this website, you probably don’t need to be told that NES and SNES were both fantastically successful and extremely influential consoles. In turn, Masayuki Uemura, as the creator of NES and SNES, was and is a tremendously influential designer. The mark he left on the video game industry is profound and will continue to be felt for times to come.
To learn more about the life of Masayuki Uemura, his Nintendo journey, and creating NES particularly, Kotaku ran a lengthy feature speaking with the man last year.