Video Game Pioneer Ralph Baer Dead at 92

BaerThe pioneer of video games like Pong and Simon has passed away at the age of 92. Ralph Baer along with a team of experts developed the first video game console for at home use, leading the way for today’s high-tech consoles.

Although a longtime resident of Manchester, Baer who was born in Germany escaped the Holocaust along with his family. According to an insider, Baer died peacefully in his home this past Saturday, which was confirmed by the Goodwin Funeral Home.

According to a statement from Baer the concept of a home game console was born in the 1950s while working as a set designer for television. Over the next 10 years, he became Sanders Associates’ (now BAE Systems) chief engineer, which opened the door for his to start working on television games.

This role resulted in The Brown Box, licensed by Magnavox, which was made available with the Odyssey in the earlier part of the 1970s. By connecting the console to a television set, roughly 24 games could be played. Of those, the two most popular were Pong and Table Tennis.

Mark Baer, his son, said that he remembered playing the old video games on a small black and white television stand. For his accomplishments, Baer was the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, presented to him in 2006 by then President George W. Bush. In 2010, he was also inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Prior to the Magnavox Odyssey being invented, co-workers of Baer questioned as to how he expected to make money off such a project. He said that most people thought what he was doing was a complete waste of time, not to mention the company’s money but where the industry went and how fast it grew was beyond imagination. At the American History Museum, one version of The Brown Box sits proudly on display.

Eventually, Baer went on to start his own consulting business, allowing him more freedom to create and develop various types of electronic games and toys. Interestingly, one of his first creations, Simon, is still being produced today.

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