The man who created the first technology that brought video games to life has died, aged 92. Ralph Baer was an outstanding electrical pioneer, inventing hundreds of devices and awarded 150 patents. His crowning achievement was the technology that would power the Magnavox Odyssey; the very first home video games console.
In the video above you can see Baer testing out a ping-pong game on ‘the brown box’ in 1969, the prototype that would eventually become the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972.
Baer himself led an extraordinary life. Growing up in a Jewish family in Germany during the Nazi’s rise to power, he fled the country in 1938 and moved to Holland, before making a more permanent emigration to the United States. Here he soon joined the US military as part of the intelligence division, where he wrote manuals for D-Day troops on how to operate German machinery and weaponry. Logistical mistakes almost put him on the beaches themselves, but a case of pneumonia landed him in hospital and away from conflict.
Surviving the war, Baer returned to America and embarked on an astonishing career in electronics. He gained one of the very first Bachelor of Science in Television Engineering degrees from the American Television Institute of Technology in 1949. In 2006 President George Bush presented him with the National Medal of Technology for his work on driving forward the games industry. Between those two dates he developed his 150 patents, and worked on devices for NASA’s Saturn launches.
Ralph passed away on 6th December, and is survived by his three children.