Ralph H. Baer, known by many as the father of video games, has died at the age of 92. A pioneer in the industry, Baer’s name is credited on more than 150 patents but perhaps his most well-known contribution came when he created the very first video game console for the home.
Baer was born in Germany in 1922. His entire family fled to America in 1938 just weeks before Kristallnacht. Demonstrating the American dream, he worked in a small leather factory and studied radio and television repair before being drafted in World War II as an intelligence officer.
In 1949, Baer earned a degree in television engineering and went to work for various companies over the years. During a stint with Sanders Associates in 1966, he developed the “Brown Box” console system along with Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch. The trio licensed the design to Magnavox in 1971 and a year later, the company released the first home console, the Magnavox Odyssey.
Baer is also credited with creating the first light gun (think Nintendo Zapper style) which was sold as part of an expansion pack for the Odyssey called Shooting Gallery. The gun became known as the first-ever peripheral for a video game console. Oh, and he helped create the electronic memory game Simon.
In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush.
Baer died at his New Hampshire home on December 6.