A farewell to Ralph Baer
Saluting the father of videogames and Magnavox Odyssey creator
Ralph Baer, often referred to as the father of videogames, died aged 92 on December 6. Born in Germany as Rudolf Heinrich Baer, his family fled to the US before the Second World War and he went on to create the world’s first home videogame console; initially referred to as the Brown Box, it was marketed as Magnavox’s Odyssey in 1972. As well as laying the foundations for modern videogames, he created the first console peripheral, a lightgun, and was a keen inventor.
“Ralph always seemed to be ahead of other people,” remembers American Classic Arcade Museum curator Gary Vincent. “He took Duck Hunt on the NES and built a detection unit that sat on the top of the television. You threw Nerf balls at the screen instead of using a gun. He was doing this in 1990, but now you look at things like Wii or Kinect… Ralph was ahead of his time.”
Baer received many awards, including the Game Developers Choice Pioneer award and America’s National Medal of Technology. While he’s best known for his videogame work, he also created memory toy Simon, and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall Of Fame