Born to a car salesman and a housewife in the then rural city of Machida, Tokyo, Satoshi Tajiri spent a great deal of his childhood exploring the outdoors. He was especially interested in collecting and trading insects, which he would find and catch in the fields and forests around town. His hobby earned him the nickname “Dr. Bug” and as a kid he dreamed of being an entomologist.
However by the late 70s a lot of the rural area Tajiri grew up in had been paved over by concrete. As a teenager he became more fascinated with arcade games, which lead him to cut classes so he could spend as much time at the arcade as possible. He was attending the Tokyo National College of Technology at the time, where he studied electronics. His father wanted him to be an electrical utility repairman when he graduated, but he had other ideas.
In 1981 Tajiri won a competition held by Sega, to design a game concept with his idea for an action game called Spring Stranger. One year later he started an arcade gaming magazine called Game Freak, that had techniques and secrets on beating games like Donkey Kong and Xevious. The magazine rose out of a lack of information available at the time, it was hand written, stapled together and sold for 300 yen each, just enough to break even. As the magazine got more contributors and they started getting together to talk about games, it became apparent to Tajiri that a lot of the games at the time just weren't all that good. Frustrated by this he decided to make his own.
Tajiri started learning how to write software by taking apart his NES to see how it worked. It took him a couple of years to learn to program for the platform and another year to develop his first game, Quinty (released in the US as Mendel Palace), which Namco published in 1987. Two years later he founded Game Freak, Inc, using the name of his old magazine to start his own game company. Game Freak would go on to develop games for the NES, SNES and Genesis, but it wasn't until Nintendo came out with the Game Boy that Tajiri would have the idea to combine his childhood love of insect collecting, TV shows and video games into one of the most successful franchises in video gaming history.
The feature that inspired Tajiri to create Pokémon was the Game Boy's link cable. Other games at the time were using it to have players compete with each other, but Tajiri thought to use the feature for sharing. Trading Pokémon and interacting with other players became one of the most prominent features of the Pokémon games. It's the only way to catch 'em all.
Even though they didn't fully understand the idea, Nintendo was impressed enough with Tajiri's previous work, that they gave him initial funding for his project. Shigeru Miyamoto would become a mentor to Tajiri during the development of the game and would be a major influence towards Tajiri's development style. Creating Pokémon Red and Green (released as Red and Blue in the west) took six years and it would almost bankrupt Game Freak in the process. Five employees quit before the game was finished due to the company's financial state and Tajiri himself did not take any salary, instead living off of his father's income.
When the game was finally finished in 1996, the Game Boy was thought of as a dead platform. There was no interest in magazines, TV shows or merchandising, and Tajiri thought that Nintendo would not publish the game. Despite having seemingly all odds against it, the Pokémon games came out and they found their audience in Japanese boys, who had not yet given up on the Game Boy. The sales grew slowly but steadily and they did not stop until the game was one of Nintendo's best selling franchises.
Today Tajiri is still actively involved in the development of new Pokémon games.
Starting at 8:55 EST time on March 12th,2011 a rumor started started stating Satoshi Tajiri's death because of the tsunami, The rumored went rampant on twitter for hours. However Nintendo America released a statement stating no one who worked at Nintendo Japan had been harmed. However even after this statement the rumor still raged on.