You might not be familiar with Lance Barr’s name, but if you are a fan of games, you’re definitely familiar with Barr’s work.
Back in the halcyon days of 1982, Nintendo hired Barr to be the company’s design and brand director. Barr’s first job was actually to design arcade cabinets for the US market. Still, the designer eventually went on to transform Nintendo’s Japanese console designs to better suit the western market. Notedly, Barr was behind the design of the NES.
“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,” Barr told Nintendojo in 2005. “The design was conceived as a wireless, modular system, designed to look more like a sleek stereo system rather than an electronic toy. After the first public showing in the US at the Consumer Electronics Show, I was asked to redesign the case based on new engineering requirements. To reduce costs, the wireless function was eliminated, as well as some of the modular components such as the keyboard and data recorder. But the biggest change was the orientation and size requirements to accommodate a new edge connector for inserting the games. The new edge connecter was a ‘zero force’ design that allowed the game to be inserted with low force, and then rotated down into the ‘contact’ position. The case had to be designed around the movement of the game, and required the shape and size of the NES to grow from the earlier concepts.”
Barr went on to work on everything from the NES Zapper lightgun, the NES Advantage arcade stick, the original SNES console, its updated top-loading version, and the Wii Nunchuck, among many, many other things.
Then, in July of 2021, Barr updated his Linkedin profile to say that he is retired and “moving onto ‘other’ projects.” Thanks for all the memories Barr, and have a good retirement.
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