Believe it or not, the history of Nintendo goes all the way back to 1889. And before you ask—no, they were not selling Mario figures carved from wood.
Originally named “Nintendo Koppai”, the small business based in Kyoto started by Fusajiro Yamauchi produced Hanafuda Cards. For those unfamiliar, these are simple playing cards that are used to play multiple games – much like the more common standardized 52 playing card sets. Nintendo’s cards were hand made and quickly gained in popularity.
more info via http://gizmodo.com/the-surprisingly-long-history-of-nintendo-1354286257