In the mid-1960s, when Nintendo was a mere playing card company, a man named Gunpei Yokoi worked as a repairman in one of their factories. One day, while company president Hiroshi Yamauchi was inspecting the factory, he found Yokoi playing around with a little extendable claw, which he had invented in his spare time. Yokoi feared he'd be fired for playing with toys on company time, but instead, Yamauchi decided to mass-produce the toy, and gave Yokoi a promotion. Yokoi dubbed the claw the "Ultra Hand", and it was released to the public in 1966.
The Ultra Hand was a massive hit, selling over a million units. Nintendo had been trying to expand into new markets for years, and the Ultra Hand was the ticket to success they had been waiting for. More toy products followed, many of which were also invented by Yokoi, and Nintendo became a major player in Japan's toy industry.
Nintendo had several more products that used the "Ultra" name, such as the Ultra Machine batting machine and the Ultra Scope toy gun. The Nintendo 64 was originally meant to be known as the Nintendo Ultra 64, in a possible nod to the Big N's old toy line. In any case, trademark disputes with Konami's Ultra Games label put a stop to this plan, and the system was renamed.
The Ultra Hand itself has been given nods in quite a few Nintendo games. It appears in WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! and WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$ in a microgame created by (who else?) 9-Volt, and it was was referred to in the name and look of Wario's Defensive Power Shot, the "Ultra Hand Return", in Mario Power Tennis.
In 2010, Ultra Hand was, at long last, given its very own game: Grill-Off with Ultra Hand!, a simple little Wii game released exclusively to members of Club Nintendo.