The Japanese games company Bandai Namco says Masaya Nakamura, the “Father of Pac-Man” who founded the Japanese video game company behind the hit creature-gobbling game, has died at age 91.

Nakamura originally founded the company as Nakamura Manufacturing, selling coin-operated children’s rides to a department store in Yokohama, Japan. He later changed the name of the company to Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (NAMMCo!) and began producing electromechanical arcade machines like 1976’s Namco F-1.

Namco hit the big time when Nakamura shrewdly purchased the struggling Atari Japan from owner Nolan Bushnell for $500,000—far higher than the $80,000 offered by Sega. The deal granted Namco an exclusive license to distribute Atari’s games in Japan for ten years and led to the development and release of original games such as Gee Bee and Galaxian. Namco was merged with ‘Bandai’ in 2007.

Masaya Nakamura was also awarded ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ from the Japanese government in 2007

 

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