Ever wonder why the Famicom (née Family Computer) was red, gold and white? It was glorious colour scheme, but the story goes that cheap plastics were responsible for the console’s iconic hue. That story, says one of the console’s main designers, is wrong.
In a recent interview with Weekly Playboy, former Nintendo hardware designer Masayuki Uemura explained that it was quite the opposite. While at Nintendo, Uemura oversaw hardware designs, such the Famicom (above) and the Super Famicom.
“Originally, the inexpensive steel body we planned to use was too fragile,” explained Uemura about the Family Computer, “so we changed it to a highly durable plastic.” But what about the red colour? In 2010, Japanese site IT Media reported that the red plastic was cheaper than other colours, which was apparently why Nintendo selected it.
That’s not true, said Uemura. “The reason why we used the dark red was simply due to an order from the company’s president,” Uemura continued, referring to former Nintendo honcho Hiroshi Yamauchi. “Our President often wore a scarf that was a similar dark red colour, with the reason being this was a colour he liked.”
That, added Uemura, is “the truth”.
Uemura also named the now iconic console, christening it the “Family Computer”. During the early 1980s, words like “personal computer” and “home computer” were spreading through Japan. “I thought the word ‘family’ hasn’t been used yet,” Uemura said. And thus the name “Family Computer” was born.
However, Uemura’s wife said, “Why not just call it ‘Famicom?’” Her rationale was that Japanese people, famous for shortening long words, wouldn’t say “Family Computer” anyway.
Uemura thought the name “Famicom” was good and actually presented the moniker to his boss at Nintendo. The name, however, was rejected with the thinking that “Family Computer” was easier to understand.
Needless to say, the red, gold and white console was released as the “Family Computer”, and the entire nation of Japan has called it “Famicom” ever since.