Masaya Nakamura, the man whose Namco Entertainment brought the world Pac-Man and all its follow up games to the coin machine business, died at the age of 91 on Jan. 22, 2017. The Yokohama native had started out in the business in 1955 when he installed two kiddie rides on the roof of a department store, became Atari’s Japanese video games distributor in the early ’70s and went on to produce his own games as Nakamura Mfg. (later to be shortened to Namco).
The company produced many classic video hits during the boom, including the Space Invaders derivative Galaxian which they licensed in the U.S. to Midway Games. By 1980, Namco had appointed its own North American distributors and rewarded them with Pac-Man followed by the even more successful Ms. Pac-Man.
The franchise was originally developed by Namco employee, Toru Iwatani, who would later be personally awarded “Video Game of the Year” honors by the Century Club’s President Al Rodstein at a Chicago ceremony during an AMOA Expo.
The New York Times advised that Nakamura piloted Namco into its merger with Bandai, and then kicked back to become an advisor in 2002. The paper also said that details of his death were being kept private by his family. According to public tax records in Japan, the Times disclosed that Nakamura was the 68th richest person in Japan.