This code was introduced by Kazuhisa Hashimoto in the Famicom (NES) port of Gradius as a testing tool, then discovered as a cheat code, and later became part of video game culture itself. RIP Mr. Hashimoto.
This is Konami’s official declaration:
Also, different industry personalities have spoken about the fact, such as Iken Imaizumi and Reggie-Fils Aime
The code acquired mainstream popular culture value over the years, even to the point of appearing in countless video games like Contra, or big movies like Wreck-It Ralph:
The creation of the Konami Code
Here’s an excerpt of a discussion of Mr. Hashimoto with Shigeharu Umezaki (a Konami production manager) in 2003, where he mentions the use of the Konami Code.
Hashimoto: Once we started making NES games, a few people who specialized in game design started appearing on the scene, but originally there really wasn’t anybody exclusively in charge of planning. We’d generally bring material over from the arcade games and then have a sort of duel of ideas. *laughing* It was normal for a NES game to be designed in 4-6 months by a team of 4 people. This practice didn’t really change until the Super Nintendo era. My first game, Track & Field, took half a year with a grand total of 2 people working on programming and design. I don’t think Gradius took even half a year with a team of 4 people. We did spend time developing a special controller for Track & Field because people complained the regular one hurt, however. Gradius was something we were ordered to port, so we tried to be realistic about it. The number of sprites on the NES is overwhelmingly small, so we had no illusions about what we were capable of. *laughing* We just said to ourselves “Well, that’s as much as we can do!” and left the game at that. I had one guy under me, and he played through the coin-op version. That one’s really tough. I hadn’t played that much and obviously couldn’t beat it myself, so I put in the Konami Code. *laughing*
Umezaki: What’s the story behind the Konami Code, anyway?
Hashimoto: There isn’t one, really. *laughing* Because I was the one who was going to be using it, I made sure it was easy to remember. The game took around half a year to develop, and, at the time, putting the code together was like an entertaining puzzle. “How on earth am I going to be able to fit these passwords into the program?” I’d ask myself. Gradius saw an incredibly poor reception, however. *laughing* The company made almost 1,000,000 copies in anticipation of its release, but we were only able to sell 500,000 ~ 600,000. On the other hand, games like The Goonies, which we didn’t expect to sell well at all, sold close to a million. Back then, hidden characters were all the rage. I put 3 or 4 UFOs and the like in Track & Field and The Goonies had some too. I’d put them in really easy-to-find places, where anyone might expect them to be hidden. I think I was heavily influenced by the hidden commands in Xevious. I also have memories of playing Dragon Quest while making the game. Not to mention playing the FDS version of Zelda late into the night. *laughing*Source and credit of the translation goes to GlitterBerri https://www.glitterberri.com/developer-interviews/konami-the-nintendo-era/, originally from Game Staff List Association Japan
Alekz is the admin of the Gradius Core community, he loves everything Gradius and wants everyone to know how awesome those games are… so here we are! He also has a YouTube channel where he blabbers all about videogames in general. He’s a cool guy, you should check him out 😉