Tuesday 9 December 2014

Obituary: The Father Of Video Games, Ralph Baer

The Father Of Video Games, Ralph Baer
March 8, 1922 – Dec 6, 2014 
A true pioneer never to be forgotten 

When Ralph Baer made a tiny piece of light fly across the screen in a controlled manner he didn’t just create the idea of a video game, he created the something we often forget…the wonderment of video games. 

The fun they evoke, the surprise and the sheer joy that this entertainment medium has given us all.

As much an electronics wizard as a visionary, Ralph Baer had a vision in 1966 to create the very first games console – this is known as ‘the brown box’ which actually sits in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington. The prototype was completed in 1968 way before Atari even conceived itself as a company, let alone created Pong. 

Mr Baer didn’t have ‘video games’ inventor as part of his job description, during his career as an employee of BAE working on televisions he sought to investigate the ‘idea’ of playing a game on a screen. It had no previous concept, no customer-base – he simply loved the ‘idea’ of it and sought out to make it work. Finally after many years of developing this prototype he managed to find an interested party – Magnavox, in releasing it to the World.

So in essence one man created the Video Game commercially – this 1st generation console released in August 1972 was to be known as the Magnavox Odyssey. With no sound behind the gameplay this was a simple experience – but back in the early 70s ‘an experience’ none the less for those 1st generation gamers. Those gamers that could be your moms or dads – or even grandparents! 

So from the original Magnavox came other incarnations many of which Ralph Baer was involved in – his invention of the first light gun is an amazing achievement. Forget your Playstation Move, Wii Controller or even Kinect – his idea of use a separate device to interact with a TV screen was a true revolution.

In his lifetime he not only had over 150 electronics patents to his name he created much loved games such as Simon, Electronic Perfection and Laser Command amongst many others.

And that was Ralph Baer – a revolutionary inventor. Someone to respect, admire and aspire to. Someone who created the one thing we love.

We thank you Mr Ralph Baer – not for only inventing the first video game console. But for creating the one huge, massive thing we love in life…video games.

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