Nintendo is a Japanese manufacturer of video game systems and a publisher and developer of video games. They are widely considered the leader of their field, due to the relative success of their products, particularly their handheld gaming machines.
Nintendo was founded in 1889 as a card company. Nintendo would venture into several businesses over the greater part of a century before focusing on video games starting around 1974, when the company gained the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan. Nintendo soon began producing their own hardware and software, and by the early 80's, had a small library of hits including Donkey Kong and some very talented employees, including Gunpei Yokoi and Shigeru Miyamoto. In 1980, Nintendo released the first in the Game & Watch series of single-game handhelds, and in 1983, they released the Famicom, which would be known as the Nintendo Entertainment System in other territories.
Ohga Shrugs and the Fourth Generation
After Nintendo released their next console, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, in 1990, they discussed making a CD-ROM attachment for the console with the help of Sony. However, Nintendo backed out of the deal at last minute, leaving Sony embarrassed. To this day, Sony has animosity towards Nintendo, but never responded with any legal or business actions.
Although they released their fourth generation system late, Nintendo ended the fourth generation well ahead of its chief rival, Sega. However, Nintendo had lost a lot of ground in the West to their new arch-rival. Their new handheld, the Game Boy, on the other hand, dominated its respective market.
The Fifth Generation
Nintendo spoke about entering the fifth generation as early as 1993, with talk about a system that could render 3D environments and characters. However, the N64 would not go on the market until 1996, well after the Saturn did.
This generation, Nintendo lost yet more ground to Sega, which received the lion's share of third party support. The main exceptions were companies such as Square and Enix, which released their popular Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games exclusively on Nintendo systems.
Nintendo has a large number of studios creating games exclusively for their hardware, both first and second party.