The name "Pokemon" is a contraction of the Japanese translation of this name - "Po-ket-to Mo-n-su-taa." The game was originally released in February 1996 after a reported six years of development by Satoshi Tajiri and his company Game Freak, Inc, a subsidiary of Nintendo. Nintendo was not very keen on the game initially, but its popularity gradually increased over time by word of mouth.
The game soon became such a hit that in 1999 an animated television series was proposed. Tajiri was said to be initially hesitant because he thought a show could damage the success of the game itself. The show's writers were forced to play through the game extensively before working on the series so that the experience for both would be similar. Unsurprisingly, the show was also a massive hit and gave way to a worldwide phenomenon that included feature-length movies, trading cards, and other merchandise!