Random: ’70s Photo Reminds Us That Once Upon A Time, Nintendo Ran A Taxi Firm

Image: NEOSiAM 2021 / Pexels

It’s well documented that Nintendo, despite being one of the world’s leading creators of video games, didn’t start out in the field. The company was founded 1889 to create playing cards, and over the course of the next few decades would try its hand at several other markets – including toys, ‘love hotels’ and even instant rice.

These projects were the brainchild of Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man who would eventually steer the company towards interactive entertainment. A wily negotiator and visionary businessman, Yamauchi’s instinct would prove instrumental in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, but in his younger years, he was clearly keen to try as many ideas as possible to see which one would stick.

Another of Nintendo’s short-lived ventures was a taxi firm, which was established in the 1960s. In the book Nintendo: The Company and its Founders, author Mary Firestone explains:

Yamauchi also started a taxi business, which he named Daiya. This was a successful venture, but he sold it when struggles with the driver labour unions made the business too expensive to run.

A 1970s image has recently resurfaced online, and shows Satoru Okada (former right hand of Gunpei Yokoi at Nintendo R&D1 and later general manager of Nintendo Research & Engineering) standing next to one of Nintendo’s shiny ‘Daiya’ taxis:

As you can see, the firm’s logo – which includes Nintendo’s name in kanji, 任 (Nin) 天 (ten) 堂 (dō) – takes inspiration from the playing cards that had made Nintendo its fortune up to this point, and blue was chosen for the paintwork because it was a colour Yamauchi liked, according to Okada.

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