SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – Masaya Nakamura, a Japanese toy entrepreneur whose company’s most enduring creation, Pac-Man, became a worldwide phenomenon, died on Jan. 22. He was 91 years old.

His death was announced on Monday by Bandai Namco. No cause was given, and the company did not say where he died.

Nakamura began exploring amusement in business form first in 1955, a decade after Japan’s defeat in World War II. The nation’s economy was slowly springing back to life, the somber mood of the first postwar decade was retreating, and the Japanese were once again ready to begin embracing fun and games.

He wouldn’t rise to true fame until the the world’s obsession for video games was born.

Nakamura was an early believer in their potential. In the 1970s, he hired software engineers and directed his growing company, Nakamura Manufacturing – later renamed Namco – to develop titles for arcades. His company’s first hit was Galaxian, a Space Invaders-esque game that he sold to American company Midway Games in 1979. Pac-Man was born the following year.

The brainchild of 25-year-old Namco employee Toru Iwatani, who would later say that he was inspired by the shape of a pizza with a slice missing. The “Pac” came from the Japanese onomatopoeic word “pakku,” equivalent to the English “gobble” or “munch.”

“I never thought it would be this big,” Mr. Nakamura told an interviewer in 1983, after the game took the world by storm. “You know baseball? Well, I knew it would not be a single. But I thought maybe a double, not a home run.”

In the decades since Pac-Man’s release, video games have grown increasingly violent and complicated, but Pac-Man remains child-friendly, accessible and challenging. Versions of Pac-Man or one of its spinoffs exist on different gaming platforms and are readily available online, such as a ps2 iso of a Pac-Man title. Though the true numbers are unknown, it’s estimated that millions of work hours were squandered after Google hosted a game of Pac-Man on it’s website in 2010. That’s right, they released a playable version of the game with no strings attached for people of all ages to play.

In the 36 years since its release, it is estimated to have been played more than 10 billion times. The Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Modern Art have Pac-Man machines in their collections.