It took 20+ years, but Nintendo was recognized as the inventor of the four-direction digital pad, or D-pad, that we all know and love. They even got an Emmy for it at CES, high praise indeed. The press release makes it sound like the D-pad was introduced with the NES/Famicom, but the history goes back a little farther.
Game designer legend Gunpei Yokoi created the little marvel while he was working on Nintendo's first handheld, the Game and Watch. The old G&W had a clamshell design eerily reminiscent of the DS, and Yokoi needed a directional control that wouldn't stick out so the handheld could close. He took the bare essence of the then-ubiquitous digital joystick and compressed it down into a flat, easily portable solution. Thus, the D-pad was born, and it's been slapped onto just about every other game console since, including Yokoi's other invention, the Game Boy.
It's great that Nintendo was finally recognized for its substantial contribution (too bad Yokoi wasn't there to see it--he died in a car accident in 1997), I just wonder how long until the Wii Remote gets some awards.
Did You Know?
Nintendo Wins Emmy Award
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has awarded Nintendo an
Emmy(R) Award for its invention of the plus-shaped D-pad, one in a long string
of Nintendo's controller innovations. The award was presented in recognition
of the technological achievement of the D-pad, which radically changed how
people interact with their video games and, by extension, their televisions.
Nintendo received the award in Las Vegas during the Technological &
Engineering Emmy Awards, which kicked off this week's Consumer Electronics
The D-pad first debuted in the United States in 1985 on the controllers
for the Nintendo Entertainment System(R), and has been standard on all video
games controllers ever since. The D-pad replaced joysticks and represented an
early example of how Nintendo was willing to shake up the status quo in the
search for a better gaming experience.
"Nintendo has long been a pioneer in the way that people interact with
their games," said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. "Our
commitment to pushing the envelope continues today with our motion-sensitive
Wii Remote controllers, which again rewrite the rules. We are grateful for
this award and thank the academy for the honor."
Artwork of both the D-pad and of Nintendo's Emmy Award is available at