Father of home video game console Ralph Baer has died. He was 92.
Baer started thinking about developing video games which could be played on a television screen while he was employed as an engineer at a defense contractor in 1966. He finally succeeded in developing "Brown Box," a prototype which later became he Magnavox Odyssey, the first home gaming console.
Baer's deserves credit for changing the face of computer gaming and making it into a huge market which is now worth billions of dollars.
In 1971, Sanders Associates, the Nashua, N.H.-based military contractor that employed Baer, applied for a patent for Baer's invention and in 1973 they were granted US Patent No. 3,728,480. In 2010, Baer recalled how his invention immediately captivated the patent examiners reviewing his application.
"The examiner and the lawyer were talking jargon back and forth, and the examiner really wasn't paying much attention to me," he told the US Patent and Trademark Office. "While they were bantering back and forth about the claims, I set up a small television set and my game console in the examiner's office, and within 15 minutes every examiner on the floor of that building was in that office wanting to play the game."
The system was then licensed by Sanders to Magnavox, which released the Odyssey in 1972. The Odyssey was not as modern as the gaming consoles of today. The unit produced no sound, was powered by batteries, and used translucent overlays to simulate color graphics on TV screens. It was priced at $100 and nearly 100,000 units were sold in 1972.