Ralph H. Baer

Ralph Henry Baer ( born March 8, 1922 in Rodalben ) is a German -American game developers. He developed in 1969 on their own, the first thought for home use game console: the Odyssey.


Ralph Baer had been trained as part of himself, as he had to leave school at the age of 14 years because he was Jewish. Two years later he moved with his family to America, where he was trained in radio and television service via correspondence course from the National Radio Institute. After he had joined the army and had so participated in the Second World War, he was educated in England, where he was stationed in algebra. A year after he was finally returned from the war, he enrolled at the American Television Institute of Technology ( Chicago). Thus he continued his general education. Finally, he received his bachelor's degree in television technology. From 1951 he worked at Loral Corporation, where he developed new television receivers. Since 1955, he was eventually employed by the military contractor Sanders Associates. There he worked a total of 30 years, taking the first 15 years took care of military projects. He also dealt with transistors and microprocessors.

In August 1966 Baer first came up with the idea of a home gaming console, as he thought about the use of TV sets. Since he was head of a department at Sanders, he could realize his idea. He planned to develop such a device and to market for $ 19.95. In the development, he worked with Bill Harrison. They developed a mechanism that could control the image that displayed the TV. But your first inventions were not yet of entertainment; the first toy that they designed, was a lever. If this is pressed, a message displayed on the TV red box was recolored in blue. As Baer this invention introduced the company's board, said this, Baer just wasting the time of the company.

Since 1967 Bill Rusch also worked with Baer and Harrison. This work has continued with the project and it developed further, and they presented a two-player game ready, in which a player chasing another in a maze. In May or June 1967, the three eventually designed a system that einblendete moving dots on the screen, and the player's task is to control a further point which should catch the other was. This continued to evolve, so that at the end was a ping-pong simulation. Baer wanted to market his system, Sanders was permitted, but not suitable as a company because the number of employees of the company declined and they could not operate in the toy market as a military contractor. After a cable producer offered as a marketer, General Electric showed interest, and later Zenith Electronics Corporation and Sylvania. Finally, RCA also interested in the product, it came so far that have contracts were written, but these were never signed. In 1971, a former employee of RCA, who had seen the project, employed by Magnavox, where he talked about the game system. The company showed interest and came after she had inspected the system, to the judgment, it is a good investment. After the system has been somewhat revised, corresponding contracts were signed at the end of the year, so that was produced from 1972 Magnavox Odyssey. The unit came for 100 USD on the market.

In the aftermath Baer fell into depression because the military company had financial problems and he doubted the value of his games console. He came to the opinion that the Board would have had Sanders right when he ruled Baer's project was a waste of time.

In January 2006, Baer was honored by U.S. President Bush for his performance in the field of video games with the Order " National Medal of Technology ", which is considered the highest U.S. award in the field of science and technology. In 2008 he received the IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award. For 2014, the IEEE Edison Medal him was awarded.

Steven L. Kent called Baer along with Steve Russell, the creator of Spacewar! , The "forgotten fathers of video games ".

The invention

  • The rectangular block of wood worked inside not yet familiar with computer technology, but with transistors and switches, you had to attach a matching printed with a pitch plastic disc on the TV screen for the use of games because the console itself could constitute only simple graphic elements. With two knobs on both sides, one for the vertical, the other designed for the horizontal axis, use was his character or a space ship, etc. The whole thing was more like a board game for several people built with console support; most game variants required further supplied non-electronic aids such as event tickets etc. This device Baer presented in the same year the then electric giant Magnavox before, which finally in 1972 brought the console Magnavox Odyssey in the U.S. in the trade. And this with a respectable success. Around 100,000 sold one. This was the successor to Odyssey 2 - and overall the game consoles - is preparing on the market the way.
  • Another development is Baer's Senso (English Simon ), a well-known electronic musical toy which provides memory to the test.