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Tim Stamper has announced on Twitter that the former Rare director and president of Rare Coin-It Joel Hochberg has sadly passed away.

Hochberg is somewhat of a mysterious figure in Rare's early history but was undoubtedly a significant contributor to the company's success. He bought the Stamper Brothers their first Famicom system and later handled a lot of the business relations for the brothers in the US, including making headway with American publishers like Nintendo of America. According to an obituary originally published in the Miami Herald, he passed away peacefully on April 18th, 2023.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 30th, 1935, Hochberg entered the coin-operated amusement business in the 1970s. His earliest known role in the industry was reported to be as the vice president at arcade game manufacturer Centuri between 1976 to 1982. In 1986, he helped set up Rare Coin-It Inc in the United States and joined the Stamper Brothers to create the video game hit factory that produced Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo Kazooie, and Perfect Dark, among other hits. As a result, you'll find his name in the credits on many of these titles.

Already, those who work/worked at Rare over the years are coming out to express their condolences and pay tribute to the man on Twitter. Kev Bayliss, the artist behind Battletoads and many other famous Rare characters, gave us this statement to share:

I was lucky enough to meet Joel a just a few weeks after joining Rare, and he made me feel at ease instantly. I was so young at the time and looked upon him more as an uncle than anything. He always took the time to speak to everyone at the company whenever he visited and was an absolute gentleman. He will be sadly missed.

The former Rare artist Ed Bryan called Hochberg "a good man" and said that "he played a pivotal role in creating a business that allowed such magic to happen!" The longtime Rare artist Mark Betts, meanwhile, expressed his sadness at the news, remembering a brief conversation he had with the legendary figure in a hotel "a couple of E3s back".

Rare's social media account has also acknowledged the passing of the former director. In a tweet, the company published the following:

Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.

[source twitter.com]