Namco Founder Masaya Nakamura, Whose Company Created Pac-Man, Dies At 91

Posted On: 1/30/2017

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TAGS: Masaya Nakamura, Pac-Man, Nakamura obituary, Namco, Bandai Namco Games Inc., coin-op video game, video game history, Father of Video Games, Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Co.

Masaya Nakamura, Namco, Pac-Man
Masaya Nakamura
TOKYO -- Masaya Nakamura, who founded the Japanese videogame company that created Pac-Man, the most famous coin-operated arcade video of all time, has died. He was 91.

Bandai-Namco reported that Nakamura died on Jan. 22. A private wake and funeral were held by the family, and a separate memorial is being planned, the company said.

Nakamura, considered a founding father of the videogame industry, established Nakamura Manufacturing Ltd. in 1955 to produce kiddie rides. Three years later the company was renamed Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Co., initialized NAMMCo, from which Namco was derived in 1977. Nakamura's company entered the coin-op videogame market by acquiring the Japanese division of Atari in 1974. Namco went on to establish a North American unit, Namco America Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA), and Namco Enterprises Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong.

In 2005, Namco was acquired by Bandai, a prominent Japanese toymaker. The two companies became Namco Bandai Holdings. In 2014, the unified entertainment company, headquartered in Tokyo, became Bandai Namco Games Inc.

Pac-Man was developed by Namco in 1979 and entered production in the following year. It was built for the U.S. market by Midway, then a division of Bally Manufacturing Corp. While Pac-Man is Namco's best-known game, its legacy also includes other classics like Dig Dug, Galaga, Galaxian, Pole Position, Xevious and more than a dozen Pac-Man sequels.

Nakamura received numerous honors, including the highest award bestowed by the Japanese government. He received the Order of the Rising Sun (in the Gold Rays with Rosette class) at the 2007 Spring Conferment of Decorations, in recognition of his contributions to the nation's industry. Nakamura was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame (Ottumwa, IA) in 2010.