Death comes to us all, while some will leave this world without making much noise others will be revered and it goes without saying which category Ralph Baer belongs in.
At the age of 92, the world lost one of the greatest pioneers of the video gaming industry; for he was the designer of the Brown Box also known as the Magnavox Odyssey, the world’s very first home video games console.
Born in 1922, Baer’s gaming curiosity unfolded in the 1960’s while working for Sanders Associates Inc. as an engineer, he began to research how to play games on a television.
From there, between 1967 and 1969, Baer and his colleagues Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch created several video game test units including the Magnavox Odyssey, a prototype for the first multiplayer, multiprogram video game system.
In 1972 it was released to the public selling over 700,000 units, thus paving the way for all video game systems that followed such as the Atari. But that wasn’t all; he was also responsible for the gameplay concept that would become Nolan Bushnell’s Pong.
Throughout the countless years, Baer held more than 150 patents, never quite leaving the gaming industry; even after retiring he was involved with the creation of Galoob’s Smarty Bear Video and Kenner’s Laser Command.
With an undeniable passion for the industry, in 2008 he donated his video game test units, production models, notes, and schematics to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History; and in 2004 President George W. Bush awarded him the National Medal of Technology.
Baer leaves behind three children and millions of fans that without him wouldn’t know gaming as it is today.
He will be dearly missed.