Ralph Baer, inventor of the home video game console, dies age 92

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Ralph Baer, who became known as the inventor of the home video game console has died aged 92, reports the New York Times.

Ralph Baer was working as an engineering contractor in 1966 when he first began researching the possibility of playing video games on a regular television set, the likes of which were starting to become more common in homes throughout the United States.

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The result of his work was a prototype called the “Brown Box”, which would later develop into the first home gaming console known as the Magnavox Odyssey.

Baer’s invention represented a huge changed in computer gaming, as computer games had only previously been available on large scale commercial computers.

More than a decade after he began to work on his first prototype, the system was licensed to Magnavox who released the Odyssey console in 1972.

The Odyssey was pretty basic compared to the likes of today’s popular Xbox or Playstation, as it produced no sound, was battery powered and used translucent overlay to create a form of coloured graphics on television screens.

When it launched in 1972, the Odyssey sold for $100 and sold nearly 100,000 units before Atari released its 2600 gaming console which arguably set the ball rolling for computer gaming to become the multi billion dollar industry it is today.

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Born in Germany in 1922, Baer and his family immigrated to the United States just before the start of World War 2. After setting up home in New York he began working as a radio technician.

During WW2 he served in London in the US military intelligence before studying at the American Television Institute of Technology where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science in 1949.

Baer who held more than 150 patents in the US and around the world was also responsible for designing some of the earliest video games including Soccer, Handball and Ping-Pong, as well as a colour pattern game called Simon, a version of which is still on sale today.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Mark Weber on

    My dad worked for Magnavox at that time, so I had my hands on The Odyssey when it was released. It was a good pong game, but nothing more. They converted Pong to other games by placing marked plastic over the TV screen. LOL.