Masaya Nakamura, the “Father of Pac-Man” who founded the Japanese video game company behind the game, has died at age 91.
Nakamura founded Namco in 1955. It started out as just two mechanical horse rides at a department store, but went on to pioneer arcade games.
Pac-Man, designed by Namco engineer and video game maker Toru Iwatani, went on sale in 1980. The yellow circle with the huge mouth was a huge hit. Guinness World Record has named it the world’s most successful coin-operated arcade game; it’s estimated to have been played more than 10 billion times.
The idea for Pac-Man’s design came from the image of a pizza with a slice carved out. Nakamura reportedly chose the word “Pac,” or “pakku” in Japanese, to represent the sound of the Pac-Man munching its prey.
The game started out as a coin-op game. It since has been adapted for cellphones, PlayStation and Xbox formats.
Other hits from Namco include Ms. Pac-Man, Jr. Pac-Man, Ridge Racer, Galaxian, Dig Dug, Galaga, and Pole Position.