Namco Founder Masaya Nakamura Passes Away at 91

Masaya Nakamura, known to many as the “Father of Pac-Man” who founded Namco back in 1955, has passed away on Sunday, January 22, at the age of 91, the company announced today.

According to the announcement, at the request of the deceased, a private wake and funeral were held with his family, and the news of his passing was withheld until after the services concluded. The company did announced that a separate, possibly public memorial is being planned for a later date. The company did not comment on the cause of death and other personal details at the wish of the Mr. Nakamura’s family.

Mr. Nakamura graduated from the Yokohama Institute of Technology in 1948 and in 1955 established Nakamura Manufacturing (now known as Bandai Namco Entertainment) which was renamed to Namco in 1977. The company started out by creating kiddie rides for department stores including a rooftop horse ride for the Mitsukoshi department store chain. The company then went on to create arcade games including Pac-Man which went on to become the highest-grossing arcade game of all time.

In 2005, Namco merged with rival company Bandai to form Bandai Namco where Mr. Nakamura retained an honorary position as senior advisor. In 2010, Mr. Nakamura was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame during The Big Bang Gaming Extravaganza in Ottumwa, Iowa. The Japanese government also awarded Mr. Nakamura the “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette” for his contribution to Japanese industry.

[Source: Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. (PDF) via Gematsu]