Bandai Namco Entertainment recently confirmed the passing of Masaya Nakamura, the businessman who originally founded Namco in 1955. Nakamura was 91 years old when he passed away on January 22nd.
Having been educated in the ship-building department of Yokohama Industrial College, Nakamura had an engineering background when he founded Nakamura Manufacturing in the Fifties. With videogames some way from existing in the consumer market, the company initially stationed wooden horse rides on the rooftop of a Yokohama department store. After a few years, the company was renamed Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company, which would be shortened to the current Namco brand in the early Seventies.
Namco would enter the videogame market through the purchase of Atari’s failing Japanese subsidiary in 1974. Nakamura had scared away competition with a massive bid of $800,000 and ultimately paid $500,000 for the company. Namco began to introduce its own videogame products in the late Seventies beginning with Gee-Bee, and soon had a string of hits including Galaxians, Pac-Man, Dig Dug and Pole Position.
Nakamura remained active in Namco until shortly after its 2005 merger with toy giant Bandai, becoming an honorary advisor in June 2006. In 2007, the Japanese government awarded Nakamura the Order of the Rising Sun, gold rays with rosette, for his contributions to industry. Our thoughts are with Masaya Nakamura’s family and friends.