On December 6, Ralph H. Baer, aka “The Father of Video Games”, died at the age of 92 at his home in Manchester, New Hampshire. The news first appeared on Gamasutra website and it was later confirmed by the New York Times.
Baer is the inventor of the first home video game console. He had the idea of playing games using a television set at home in 1966 while he was working in defense industry as an engineer. The first prototype of such console was called the “Brown Box” – the forefather of Magnavox Odyssey, the first video game console. Magnavox Odyssey allowed ordinary users to play games in their own homes without the need of buying ultra-expensive computers. Without Baer, the billion-dollar global market of video games wouldn’t have been possible.
In 2010, Baer recalled in an interview how he managed to convince the employees at the US Patent and Trademark Office of granting him the patent for the invention.
“The examiner and the lawyer were talking jargon back and forth, and the examiner really wasn’t paying much attention to me. While they were bantering back and forth about the claims, I set up a small television set and my game console in the examiner’s office, and within 15 minutes every examiner on the floor of that building was in that office wanting to play the game,”
Baer’s employer, Sanders Associates, applied for a patient for the console in 1971 and received the patent no. 3.728.480 after three years. Then it sold the invention to Magnavox. Magnavox created Odyssey, first commercial video game console and predecessor of PlayStation and Xbox, in 1972. Although it was very simple and had no sound it sold about 100.000 units for the price of $100 in only a year. Five years later (in 1977) Atari 2600 was born – a revolutionary home video game console that used for the first time ROM cartridges to store new games.
In 2011, Baer said that he had no idea the things will go so far and nobody at that time knew that they were on a geometric curve that would propel mankind straight up to heaven. He also added that it was unforseeable, fantastic and he was glad it happened.
“And if I hadn’t had started it, someone else would have,”
Ralph Baer concluded.
In 2004, Baer was also awarded the National Medal of Technology for the “groundbreaking “creation of interactive video games that led to “mega-industries in both entertainment and education realms”.
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