You may not recognize Lance Barr’s name, but if you enjoy video games, you are undoubtedly familiar with his work.
Nintendo hired Barr to be the company’s design and brand director in the halcyon days of 1982. Barr’s first job was designing arcade cabinets for the American market. Despite this, the designer went on to improve Nintendo’s Japanese console designs for the western market. Barr was also responsible for the design of the Nintendo Entertainment System.
In 2005, Barr told Nintendojo, “The original design of the NES was worked out over several months including a stay of a couple of months while I worked in Japan at NCL,” “The concept was to create a wireless, modular system that looked more like a sleek stereo system than an electronic toy.” I was asked to redesign the case based on new engineering requirements after the first public showing in the United States at the Consumer Electronics Show. The wireless function, as well as some modular components like the keyboard and data recorder, were removed to save money.
The most significant change was the required orientation and size to accommodate a new edge connector for inserting the games. The new edge connecter was designed as a ‘zero force’ design, allowing the game to be inserted with minimal force and then rotated down into the ‘contact’ position. The case had to be built around the game’s movement, and the NES’s shape and size had to evolve from earlier concepts.”
Barr went on to work on a variety of projects, including the NES Zapper lightgun, the NES Advantage arcade stick, the original SNES console, its updated top-loading version, and the Wii Nunchuck.
Barr then updated his Linkedin profile in July 2021, stating that he is retired and “moving onto ‘other’ projects.” Barr, thank you for all the memories, and best wishes for your retirement.