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This could be the first code Satoru Iwata ever wrote for Nintendo

Gaming historian pieces together a puzzle found inside a few old bits of silicon

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Frank Cifaldi, head of restoration at developer Digital Eclipse, former games journalist and unabashed pirate may have just taken possession a piece of video gaming history.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Cifaldi released details on a purchase he recently made of four circuit boards for the Famicom — the original Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES. While he can’t verify if the physical artifacts themselves are authentic, he says that the code stored on them definitely is. And it just might contain the very first lines of code ever written by junior programmer Satoru Iwata, the man who would go on to be the president of Nintendo.

Here’s how Cifaldi tells the tale:

Sadly, Iwata passed away last year at the age of 55.

Digital games are ephemeral, something that Cifaldi, who has dedicated himself to preserving the early history of gaming through piracy and emulation, knows better than most. If the goal is to capture the long chain of code and artifacts that led us to modern games, then the discovery of these boards, and the preservation of the code inside them, will help make that story just a little more complete.

The next level of puzzles.

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