RALPH H. BAER, known as 'the father of video games' and 'the Thomas Edison of the home TV game', has died at the age of 92.
Baer was responsible for the first iteration of TV gaming with his 'Brown Box' named after the wood-grained tape that bound it in 1968, which went on to become the basis for some of the earliest video consoles.
Baer was also responsible for the lights and loud noises memory game Simon, which became a worldwide phenomenon in the late seventies and is still sold today.
The Brown Box, which is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution, was an instant hit at Sanders Associates, a defence electronics contractor where Baer worked, and he was able to persuade bosses to grant him $2,500 to develop the project.
The Brown Box graduated to production in 1971 and became the Magnavox (aka Philips in Europe) Odyssey, selling 300,000 units and spawning a 'Shooting Gallery' add-on which was not just the first light gun accessory for a console, but the first peripheral for a video game.
In common with many early video game systems the controllers for the Brown Box and the Odyssey were dials spun to the left and right to alter the position on the x and y axes.
By 1973, Atari had introduced its own version, the wildly successful Pong, and the similarities in look and gameplay led to Baer's company successful suing for infringement.
However, it was the Atari system that become iconic, and the all-conquering Atari 2600 would soon be unleashed on the world.
Magnavox recorded losses during the first video game crash of 1977, but by the time "the big one" hit in 1983 it was clear that it had lost the war, and the firm withdrew from the market which, by this time, was under attack from the home computer.
Baer, a former American intelligence officer based in London during the Second World War, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010, after receiving a National Medal of Technology in 2006, just two of the many honours he received during his lifetime.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said when reviewing Baer's book, Videogames: In The Beginning: "I can never thank Ralph enough for what he gave to me and everyone else."
When most of his contemporaries had settled into retirement, Baer was still inventing and at the time of his death had over 150 patents under his belt.
So when you log on to the PS4 or Xbox One tonight, raise your controller to Ralph H. Baer. Because without him, you'd still be playing with a ball in a cup.
Baer died on Saturday. He was still inventing into his nineties. From the Brown Box, to a brown box - Mr Baer, we salute you, the man who started it all.
You can see Baer demonstrating the Brown Box in the video below. µ
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