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Ralph H. Baer: The Father of Video Games

December 08, 2015

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Who is considered the "Father Of Video Games"? There have been many influential people over the years that have definitely swayed the industry in new directions, including Nolan Bushnell (the inventor of Pong) and Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario).

But when Kidzworld thinks of the person who really created video games as we know them, Ralph H. Baer always comes to mind. Ralph created the very first home video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey.

Ralph H. Baer messing around with one of his games.Ralph H. Baer messing around with one of his games.Courtesy of Wikipedia

How It All Began

In 1966, When television sets started to become more affordable and common to see in the home, Ralph saw potential. He started messing around with the idea that TV's could be used to display new forms of interactive entertainment. What would later be known as video games.

With a 4 page pitch, he was able to convince his supervisors at work to give him the time of two other programmers, Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch, as well as a $2,500 budget to create his vision of games on the television. And wouldn't you know it. The three of them pulled it off.

They had created what Ralph called "The Brown Box", a new home video game console. It was called The Brown Box due to it's wood-like finish. The first game that was playable? A version of table tennis! Which went on to inspire the first mainstream, quarter munching game of our time, Pong.

The original Brown Box, created by Ralph H. Baer.The original Brown Box, created by Ralph H. Baer.Courtesy of Museum of Play

During an interview, Ralph H. Baer had mentioned that when early patent testing of The Brown Box and its Table Tennis game started, "Within 15 minutes, every examiner on the floor of that building was in that office wanting to play the game".

Not long after that, The Brown Box was licensed to Magnavox and they rebranded it as the Magnavox Odyssey before unleashing it to the public, thus setting in motion a series of events that would lead to the birth of the Nintendo Entertainment System!

The Brown Box was rediesigned and released as the Magnavox Odyssey!The Brown Box was rediesigned and released as the Magnavox Odyssey!Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ralph H. Baer Fun Facts

  • Born in Germany (1922)
  • Moved to United States to avoid WW2
  • Creator of the Magnavox Odyssey
  • Created the 1st light-gun game for TV
  • Has sold over 150 patents for inventions
  • One of the creators of the original SIMON!

Pretty crude by today's standards. But this is Table Tennis on the Magnavox Odyssey.Pretty crude by today's standards. But this is Table Tennis on the Magnavox Odyssey.Courtesy of videogameconsolelibrary.com
Have Your Say!

Who do you consider the "Father Of Video Games"? Let us know in the comments!