The father of video games, Ralph H. Baer, has passed away at age 92. He came to rest in his New Hampshire home on the night of Saturday, Dec. 6 according sources close to him and a Facebook post by video game historian Leonard Herman, a friend of Baer.
Dubbed the "Thomas Edison of the home TV game" by Popular Electronics Magazine in 1980, Baer's Odyssey game system was the first home video game system. The patent for the idea was filed on August 10, 1970 and the system was released by Magnavox in 1972.
Baer, his father, mother and sister fled Nazi Germany and arrived in New York in 1938. Working a job in a small leather factory in his teens, a magazine ad with the headline "Make Big Money In Radio" caught his eye. He signed up for the learn-by-mail lessons in the ad, finding work repairing radio and television sets. In 1943, Baer was drafted to serve in World War II, assigned to military intelligence. Baer graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television Engineering from the American Television Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1949 and moved into the workforce with a variety of jobs in the electronics industry.
Also among Baer's contributions is the first home light gun game, an add-on for the Odyssey called Shooting Gallery, and the popular Simon handheld game, still sold at retailers to this very day.
In his later years, Ralph's Baer's contributions were recognized with a long series of awards, including receiving the National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush on Feb. 13, 2006.
"Ralph was a generous, fantastic and brilliant man," Herman posted on Facebook. "You could spend hours with him and forget that you were in the company of someone his age. He had a youthful enthusiasm and till the end, he spent as much time as he possibly could working on one project or another."