Ralph H. Baer

Ralph H. Baer

Infobox Person
name = Ralph H. Baer

image_size = 300px
caption = Ralph Baer (left) receives the National Medal of Technology from president George W. Bush (right)
birth_date = Birth date and age|1922|3|8
birth_place = Germany
death_date =
death_place =
occupation = Inventor
spouse = Dena Whinston (m.1952) (d.2006)
parents =
children = James, Mark, Nancy

Ralph H. Baer (born March 8,1922) is a German-born American inventor, noted for his many contributions to games and the video game industry. In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology for inventing the home console for video games and spawning the video game industry.


At a young age, Baer was expelled from school because he was Jewish and had to go to a Jewish school. His father worked in a shoe factory in Pirmasens at the time. Two months before Kristallnacht, his family escaped from Germany with him. In America he was self-taught and worked in a factory for a weekly wage of twelve dollars. He graduated from the National Radio Institute as a radio service technician in 1940. In 1943 he was drafted to fight in World War II, assigned to Military intelligence at the US Army headquarters in London.

Baer graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television Engineering (unique at the time) from the American Television Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1949. He worked for a few electronics firms and started his own company before joining Sanders Associates in 1958, where he stayed until retiring in 1987.

Baer is best known for leading the development of the Brown Box, the first home video game console and his pioneering patented work in establishing video games. [cite book | title = Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing | url = http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0773525912&id=fzZ0thNz7SIC&pg=PA92&lpg=PA92&ots=PACmmCYt8D&dq=ralph+baer+%22brown+box%22&sig=Pv0rIM9eMpNJ6XBTRyAQL4RKCHQ#PPA91,M1 | author = Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Greig De Peuter | publisher = McGill–Queen's University Press| year = 2003 | isbn = 0773525912]

He is now partnered with Bob Pelovitz of MicroPROS Technology Solutions, and they have been inventing and marketing toy and game ideas since 1983. [http://www.ralphbaer.com] - Ralph Baer's personal website.]

In 2006, Baer donated all his hardware prototypes and documents to the Smithsonian. [http://invention.smithsonian.org/resources/fa_baer_index.aspx] - Ralph Baer related materials housed at the Smithsonian Lemelson Center]

Baer is a Life Senior Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. [cite web | url = http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r10/kerala/april_june_2006.htm | title = NEWSLETTER: A House Journal of IEEE Kerala Section | date = April–June 2006 | accessdate = 2007-04-17]


Magnavox Odyssey and related devices

Baer started development of the "Brown Box" console video game system and several other prototypes in 1966 for the defense-electronics company Sanders Associates in Nashua, New Hampshire (now part of BAE Systems). In 1971, it was licensed to Magnavox, and after being renamed Magnavox Odyssey, the console was released to the public in 1972. For a time it was Sanders' most profitable line, though many in the company looked down on game development.

Baer created the first light gun and game for home television use, sold grouped with a game expansion pack for the Odyssey, and collectively known as the "Shooting Gallery". [http://www.ralphbaer.com] - Ralph Baer's personal website.] The light gun itself was the first peripheral for a video game console.


He also invented "Simon", an electronic pattern-matching game that was immensely popular in the late 1970s and 1980s. [cite book | title = Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them | url = http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0740755714&id=jftapGDTmYUC&pg=PA173&lpg=PA173&ots=_pZiZL6qmU&dq=ralph+baer+simon&sig=qAgd1N-iiY-SQ3AXjsZEv6iuXCo | author = Tim Walsh | publisher = Andrews McMeel Publishing | year = 2005 | isbn = 0740755714]


In 2005, at G4's video game award show G-Phoria, Baer received a "Legend Award" for his work in the development of video games.cite web
first = Gamasutra
title = Wrap-Up: G4's G-Phoria Video Game Awards
publisher = Gamasutra
date = July 28, 2005
url = http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=6063
accessdate = 2007-04-18

On February 13, 2006, Baer was given a National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush, in honor of his "groundbreaking and pioneering creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games". [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/02/images/20060213_d-0217-515h.html President George W. Bush Presents....] ]

In 2008, he will receive the IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award.cite web
title = IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award Recipients
publisher = IEEE
url = http://www.ieee.org/portal/pages/about/awards/pr/ibukapr.html
accessdate = 2008-05-02

He received the Pioneer award at GDC on Wednesday, February 20, 2008.

See also

*First video game

Notes and references

External links

* [http://www.ralphbaer.com Ralph Baer Consultants]
* [http://invention.smithsonian.org/resources/fa_baer_index.aspx Ralph H. Baer Papers, 1943-1953, 1966-1972, 2006] - Ralph Baer's prototypes and documentation housed at the Smithsonian Lemelson Center.
* [http://www.thedoteaters.com/stage1.php The Dot Eaters entry] on Baer and the history of the Odyssey console
* [http://www.pong-story.com/rhbaer.htm A Ralph Baer biography]
* [http://www.patentstorm.us/inventors/Ralph_H__Baer-904685.html Ralph Baer's US patents]
* [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/87/11 Ralph H. Baer profile] at The Escapist.
* [http://gamasutra.com/features/20070323/edwards_01.shtml "The Right to Baer Games - An Interview with Ralph Baer, the Father of Video Games"] - From "GamaSutra" and the March 2007 edition of "Game Developer" magazine.
* [http://www.nndb.com/people/296/000101990/ NNDB Profile]
* [http://www.rolentapress.com Information about Ralph Baer's book "Videogames: In The Beginning"]

NAME=Baer, Ralph H.
DATE OF BIRTH=March 8, 1922
PLACE OF BIRTH=Pirmasens, Germany

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