Japanese founder of Namco, which brought Pac-Man to the masses, dead at 91
Pac-Man, designed by Toru Iwatani, hit the marketplace in 1980
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, who died on Jan. 22, held an honorary position at Bandai Namco, formed in 2005 from a merger of two game companies. He founded Namco in 1955. Its beginnings were humble — just two mechanical horse rides on the rooftop of a department store.
The company reported Nakamura's death Monday, but would not comment on the cause of his death or other personal details, citing his family's wishes.
The idea for the game came from the image of a pizza with a slice carved out. It launched at a time when there were few rival games, such as Space Invaders. It's estimated to have been played more than 10 billion times. Pac-Man is iconic in Japanese culture, having inspired T-shirts and other merchandise and animation shows.
Nakamura reportedly chose the word "Pac" to represent the munching of the Pac-Man devouring its prey.
Other popular Namco games during the arcade era included Galaxian and Dig Dug.