July 14, 2024

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Gunpei Yokoi and how a man playing with his calculator on a train ride changed the history of video games

Gunpei Yokoi and how a man playing with his calculator on a train ride changed the history of video games

I’m a fan of handheld consoles, and I can’t deny my preference. I feel more comfortable playing on it than on any desktop console, be it PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo. This doesn’t mean I don’t like playing titles like “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2” or “Stafield,” which is something that’s difficult for me to play on anything other than a PS5 or Series X|S. I just love playing on my laptop. It’s because of that The origin of portable consoles It is more than interesting to me.

¿What would you think if I told you that the idea for these controllers was born on a train trip? This wouldn’t be the first time this mode of transportation has led a revolution in some markets.

an opportunity

Gunpei Yokoi is a promoter of portable consoles. He was a Japanese engineer who performed routine tasks when Nintendo was still focusing much of its efforts on board games. They already had experience in the video game market, but there was nothing like the GameBoy or any of the consoles that followed. However, sometime in the late 1970s, Junpei was traveling by train and noticed how the businessman was resisting the long and boring journey. Playing with a calculator.

Just like in the cartoon, this led to the spotlight on Gunpei’s head. They needed to create a calculator-sized device so people could do this Kill time on your commute. Upon returning from the trip, he had no luck in contacting the ever-popular Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo’s president at the time.

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Fortunately for him, after a few days, Yamauchi’s driver did not show up for work. Since the head of Nintendo had an American car, few people in the company knew how to drive such vehicles. One of them was Gunpei, who was assigned this task. It was the opportunity I was looking for…But Gunpei didn’t realize it. His first reaction was annoyance, he wasn’t anyone’s driver. Sometimes pride clouds our vision, but fortunately for all Nintendo Switch fans, he was able to see through his ego and realize that it would be an opportunity to present his thoughts.

When they got into the car, it seemed like that Yamauchi wasn’t paying attention And he ignored the enthusiastic engineer. However, inside his mind, he was already planning how to deal with Gunpei’s idea. Only a few days later, Yamauchi called Junpei to come to his office, where they were not alone. An executive at Sharp, an electronics company that historically specialized in creating small form factor devices. The history of portable computers as we know them now began.


Untitled design 26

“Game & Watch” was the legacy of that conversation between Gunpei and Yamauchi. It was the starting point for What we would later know as the GameBoy, a design also directed by Gunpei. In fact, there was a time when the dual-screen “Game & Watch” was invented, which Very reminiscent of the Nintendo DS. Additionally, the console was where the D-Pad, or directional pad, that we continue to use today was created.

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at the moment, We’ve been through a lot of portable consoles. GameBoy and all its versions, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PSP, PS Vita… Nintendo Switch. A new generation of portable consoles, with PC power, has also arrived, such as Steam Deck or AYANEO. They are all examples of how small coincidences lead us to great destinations.