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Famous Inventor
Ralph H. Baer - inventing the home console for video games and spawning the video game industry
Ralph H. Baer - inventing the home console for video games and spawning the video game industryRalph H. Baer (born March 8, 1922) is a German-born American inventor, noted for his many contributions to games and the video game industry. In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology for inventing the home console for video games and spawning the video game industry.


At a young age, Baer was kicked out of school because he was Jewish and had to go to a Jewish school. His father worked in a shoe factory in Pirmasens at the time. Two months before Kristallnacht, his family escaped from Germany with him. In America he was self-taught and worked in a factory for a weekly wage of twelve dollars. He graduated from the National Radio Institute as a radio service technician in 1940. In 1943 he was drafted to fight in World War II, assigned to Military intelligence at the US Army headquarters in London.

Baer graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television Engineering (unique at the time) from the American Television Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1949. He worked for a few electronics firms and started his own company before joining Sanders Associates in 1958, where he stayed until retiring in 1987.

Baer is best known for leading the development of the Brown Box, the first home video game console and his pioneering patented work in establishing video games.

He is now partnered with Bob Pelovitz of MicroPROS Technology Solutions, and they have been inventing and marketing toy and game ideas since 1983.

In 2006, Baer donated all his hardware prototypes and documents to the Smithsonian.

Baer is a Life Senior Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.


 Magnavox Odyssey and related devices

Baer started development of the "Brown Box" console video game system and several other prototypes in 1966 for the defense-electronics company Sanders Associates in Nashua, New Hampshire (now part of BAE Systems). In 1971, it was licensed to Magnavox, and after being renamed Magnavox Odyssey, the console was released to the public in 1972. For a time it was Sanders' most profitable line, though many in the company looked down on game development.

Baer created the first light gun and game for home television use, sold grouped with a game expansion pack for the Odyssey, and collectively known as the Shooting Gallery. The light gun itself was the first peripheral for a video game console.


He also invented Simon, an electronic pattern-matching game that was immensely popular in the late 1970s and 1980s.


In 2005, at G4's video game award show G-Phoria, Baer received a Legend Award for his work in the development of video games.

On February 13, 2006, Baer was given a National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush, in honor of his "groundbreaking and pioneering creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games".

In 2008, he will receive the IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award.

He received the Pioneer award at GDC on Wednesday, February 20, 2008.

 See also

    * First video game

 Notes and references

   1. ^ Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Greig De Peuter (2003). Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing. McGill–Queen's University Press. ISBN 0773525912.
   2. ^ a b  - Ralph Baer's personal website.
   3. ^  - Ralph Baer related materials housed at the Smithsonian Lemelson Center
   4. ^ NEWSLETTER: A House Journal of IEEE Kerala Section (April–June 2006). Retrieved on 2007-04-17.
   5. ^ Tim Walsh (2005). Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0740755714.
   6. ^ Wrap-Up: G4's G-Phoria Video Game Awards. Gamasutra (July 28, 2005). Retrieved on 2007-04-18.
   7. ^ President George W. Bush Presents....
   8. ^ IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award Recipients. IEEE. Retrieved on 2008-05-02.

 External links

    * Ralph Baer Consultants
    * Ralph H. Baer Papers, 1943-1953, 1966-1972, 2006 - Ralph Baer's prototypes and documentation housed at the Smithsonian Lemelson Center.
    * The Dot Eaters entry on Baer and the history of the Odyssey console
    * A Ralph Baer biography
    * Ralph Baer's US patents
    * Ralph H. Baer profile at The Escapist.
    * "The Right to Baer Games - An Interview with Ralph Baer, the Father of Video Games" - From GamaSutra and the March 2007 edition of Game Developer magazine.
    * NNDB Profile
    * Information about Ralph Baer's book Videogames: In The Beginning
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