The founder of Namco, one of the most important companies in video game history, has passed away. Masaya Nakamura was born on December 24th, 1925. In 1955, he established the Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company, which was later shortened to Namco. Namco, of course, contributed to much of the Golden Age of Arcades. Most importantly, they gave us Pac-Man, which is the highest grossing arcade game of all time. Along with Pac-Man, they also produced Galaxian, Galaga, Xevious, and Pole Position. Pole Position, while not nearly as famous as some of the others at this point, was popular enough to warrant its own anime series in 1984.
Nakamura graduated from the Yokohama Institute of Technology 1948. He went on to make rides for children in the years following World War II. Sometime in the early 1960s, he built a ride on the rooftop of the Mitsukoshi department store. They later expanded to arcade games in the 1970s, when they made their first game, F-1.
He had the business sense to hire many software engineers to make games, and tested them himself to make sure they were fun. Shortly after that, he bought Atari from Nolan Bushnell. Even though Nakamura is known as the father of Pac-Man, it was actually created by one of his new hires, Toru Iwatani. Nakamura was the one who named it, however, and having hired Iwatani meant that without him Pac-Man would likely have never been created. Ms. Pac-Man wasn’t far behind, showing up a year later.
Namco in the modern age
Masaya Nakamura also bought a series of theme parks across the nation, which are now defunct. He stepped down from the position of CEO in 2002, just three years before Bandai merged with them, forming Bandai-Namco in 2005. Nakamura was awarded the “Order oft he Rising Sun” in 2007 for his contributions to Japan. He passed away on January 22nd, 2017 at the age of 91. His funeral was private, and his death wasn’t announced until January 30th. Rest in peace, sir. Thank you for all the amazing games. We wouldn’t be here without you.