Video Game Pioneer Ralph Baer Passes Away at 92
We are saddened to report that Ralph Baer, one of the first pioneers of the industry and widely heralded as 'The Father of Video Games,' has passed away at the age of 92.
Independent sources close to the Baer family have confirmed with Gamasutra that Ralph Baer has passed away. Baer was one of the most important figures in video game history and created the first gaming console, which would go on to redefine home entertainment and evolve into the platforms we have today.
In 1966, Baer, who was working at the defense-electronics company Sanders Associates (now BAE Systems), created the "Brown Box" gaming console prototype with Bill Rusch and Bill Harrison. Five years later, the Brown Box was licensed to Magnavox, which was dubbed the Magnavox Odyssey when it was released to the public in 1972 as the first commercialized home video game console. Baer also created the first light gun peripheral, which was an expansion for the Odyssey, called Shooting Gallery.
While many think that Pong was the first video game ever made, this was not the case. Nolan Bushnell at Atari was inspired by Baer's devices and made the first Pong arcade machine in 1973 based on Baer's previously existing Table Tennis game for the Brown Box. Bushnell would eventually go on to help make Atari a household name in the mid-to-late 1970s, but gamers back then debated between Bushnell and Baer as being the father of the video game format. Baer also helped develop the Milton Bradley electronic light game, Simon, in 1978. By the time Baer died, he had over 150 patents in his name, with most of them being game-related.
Here is some footage of Baer trying out the Brown Box back in 1969:
We here at Arcade Sushi would like to wish Ralph Baer's family our condolences. Without Baer's contributions to not only gaming, but technology as a whole, our lives would be nowhere near as fun-filled as they are today.