Ralph H. Baer
|Ralph H. Baer|
March 8, 1922 |
Rodalben, Palatinate, Germany
|Spouse(s)||Dena Whinston (1952-2006)|
|Children||James, Mark, Nancy|
|Parents||James L. Baer Lucy K. Linard|
Ralph Baer (born March 8, 1922) is a German-American video game pioneer, inventor and engineer, who is noted for his many contributions to games and the video game industry. In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology for helping develop the home console for video games and spawning the video game industry.
When Baer was eleven, he was expelled from school in Germany because of his Jewish ancestry and had to go to an all-Jewish school. His father worked in a shoe factory in Pirmasens at the time. Two months before Kristallnacht, he and his family escaped from Germany.    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.
In 1949, Baer went to work as chief engineer for a small electro medical equipment firm, Wappler, Inc where he designed and built surgical cutting machines, epilators, and low frequency pulse generating muscle-toning equipment. In 1951, Baer went to work as a senior engineer for Loral Electronics in the Bronx, New York, where he designed power line carrier signaling equipment for IBM. From 1952 to 1956, he worked at Transitron, Inc., in New York City as a chief engineer and later as vice president. He started his own company before joining Sanders Associates in 1956, where he stayed until retiring in 1987.
Baer is best known for leading the development of the Brown Box and Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console and his pioneering patented work in establishing video games. He is now partnered with Bob Pelovitz of Acsiom, LLC, and they have been inventing and marketing toy and game ideas since 1983. In 2006, Baer donated all his hardware prototypes and documents to the Smithsonian.
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. The light gun itself was the first peripheral for a video game console.
During 1978-79 he with others created three popular electronic games. Simon, an electronic pattern-matching game that was immensely popular from the late 1970s all the way up to the late 1990s. "Super Simon" was released in the same year (1979) as was "Maniac" but by separate manufacturers. Howard J. Morrison was on the design team for both the Simon games, but Baer seems to have invented Maniac alone.
On February 13, 2006, Baer was given a National Medal of Technology by Former President George W. Bush, in honor of his "groundbreaking and pioneering creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games".
On February 27, 2008, Baer received the 2008 Developers Choice Awards "Pioneer" award. The award recognizes individuals who have contributed the advancement of the videogame industry through technology, concept, or gameplay design.
- Dillon, Roberto (2011). The Golden Age of Video Games: The Birth of a Multi-billion Dollar Industry. Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 978-1-4398-7323-6.
- Wolf, Mark J.P. (2001). The Medium of the Video Game. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-79148-8.
- Kent, Steven (2001). Ultimate History of Video Games. Random House. ISBN 978-0761536437.
- Cf. Wolverton, Mark, "The Father of Video Games", American Heritage Invention and Technology magazine, Fall 2009 issue.
- American Television Institute - article from the Early Television Museum.
- Smithsonian Institution, "Administrative/biographical history", Ralph H. Baer Papers, The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
- Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Greig De Peuter (2003). Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing. McGill–Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-2591-2.
- Asciom Technology
-  - Ralph Baer's personal website.
-  - Ralph Baer related materials housed at the Smithsonian Lemelson Center
- "NEWSLETTER: A House Journal of IEEE Kerala Section". April–June 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
- "Ralph Baer game designs". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Tim Walsh (2005). Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-5571-4.
- "Wrap-Up: G4's G-Phoria Video Game Awards". Gamasutra. July 28, 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-18.
- President George W. Bush Presents....
- "IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award Recipients". IEEE. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- Hatfield, Daemon (12/20). "GDC 2008: Ralph Baer Receiving Pioneer Award - The "father of videogames" is getting props.". Retrieved 8/7/09.
- Wolverton, Mark, "The Father of Video Games: From a few notes scribbled on a notepad, Ralph Baer invented a new industry", American Heritage Invention and Technology magazine, Fall 2009.
- Ralph Baer Consultants
- Ralph Baer's US patents
- Information about Ralph Baer's book Videogames: In The Beginning
- Ralph H. Baer Papers, 1943-1953, 1966-1972, 2006 - Ralph Baer's prototypes and documentation housed at the Smithsonian Lemelson Center.
- The Dot Eaters entry on Baer and the history of the Odyssey console
- A Ralph Baer biography
- Ralph H. Baer profile at The Escapist magazine.
- "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.
- pongmuseum.com - Information about Ralph Baer and his invention "Video Ping-Pong"'
- Podcast Interview Ralph Baer on "We Talk Games." [Timecode, 01:05:58]
- History of Video Games with documents and videos of Baers Inventions