Ralph Baer – Inventor, television engineer, visionary, and the father of video games passed away today at age 92.
Ralph Baer was probably best known for his pioneering work in designing the Magnavox Odyssey. The first commercially available home video game console, it was released in the US in 1972, though Baer was working on its earlier iterations as early as 1969. The console featured controllers, light guns, and changeable cartridges for games – all industry firsts. Though the Odyssey never achieved the popularity of other consoles that came later, it paved the way for everything we know and love about games.
Baer was also the co-creator of Milton Bradley’s popular electronic matching game Simon. Baer was honored in 2006 when he was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George W Bush for his work in pioneering the video game industry. That same year, Baer donated his video game test units, production models, notes, and schematics to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. His papers are kept in the Museum’s Archives Center for the benefit of future generations of innovators, visionaries, and dreamers.
He will be sorely missed.