Ralph H. Baer, The Father of Video Games, Dies at Age 92December 8, 2014
Ralph H. Baer died on December 6, 2014 at the ripe old age of 92 in his home in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was born in 1922 in Germany and his family fled to America while Baer was a teenager due to the rising Antisemitism growing under Adolph Hitler. In America, Baer helped with the war effort and studied engineering. He was an inventor who held numerous patents, but his most famous one was for the Brown Box. This was the first gaming console and would give birth to the modern video game era. Thus, Baer is named “The Father of Video Games.”
But he was also a visionary as he could recognize the growing trend of home family entertainment via the new technological innovation known as the television set. Baer wanted to harness the power of video games that was at that time exclusive to university and military supercomputers. But hindsight is 20-20 and only Magnavox saw the potential in Baer’s little Brown Box. The Magnavox Odyssey was released to the public in 1972. This was the heart of my childhood, so I remember the excitement of the first gaming consoles. Baer created the light gun for his Shooting Gallery Game and we all remember the Table Tennis that later gave birth to the arcade game Pong. Atari followed suit with its own gaming line. Although Baer tried to patent all video games exclusively, this was thankfully not to be as it would have stifled creativity and innovation and perhaps made video games only a passing phase and not the cultural phenomenon that it is today.
I am grateful to Baer’s innovations in video games that changed my childhood forever. But even more than that, I am thankful that he lived such a full life whereby he could see how far his little Brown Box grew into our current generation home consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Also, if it wasn’t for gaming consoles, there would be no handheld consoles, and no smart phones and tablets, in my humble opinion. Thus, I crown Ralph H. Baer the Grandfather of All Home Entertainment. May he rest in peace and his memory live on and may others rise with such visions as to shape all our lives for the better.
– Des Manttari, Editor-in-Chief, Phoenix Genesis
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