Page 1 of 1  [ 4 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Mon Dec 8, '14, 2:08 am 
It's time for another session of "Know your roots", because someone who is owed a great deal died yesterday.

Ralph Henry Baer (Born Rudolf Heinrich Baer) was a German-Jewish immigrant whose family fled Germany to the United States in the late 30s for reasons that should probably be obvious. In the US, he eventually became a qualified radio service technician, and was drafted into the war effort in 1943, where he worked in military intelligence, later using his sweet GI bill cash to get himself a degree in television engineering. After working for a few other companies, such as IBM and Transitron, he eventually settled with Sanders Associates, an electronics company that handled defense contracts.

However, the proliferation of cheap televisions in the 1960's made Ralph aware that there was a unique market available, so he set about the task of figuring out how to make a game that could be played on a television screen. The eventual result of this was the "Brown Box", so called because of the brown tape that simulated wood grain, which was successfully patented, and eventually found distribution by Magnavox, as the Magnavox Odyssey. The console had no sound, and graphics were limited to two playing pieces controlled with knobs that handled vertical and horizontal movement, and the games were handled with overlays stuck on the TV screen mixed with instructions from the rulebook and sometimes even game cards. However, it also had the first iteration of video table tennis, A year before Nolan Bushnell created the first video arcade cabinet, Pong (Bushnell would later be successfully sued, but would still go on to dominate as the head of Atari).

A number of additional circuit cards would be created for the Odyssey, one of which made use of the first light gun, also invented by Baer. However, the Odyssey eventually saw the end of the line with the Odyssey2. However, the creation of the television video game system created an entire new industry from scratch, and brought computer graphics modeling out of the fields of science and business and into common entertainment, eventually making those tools so widespread they could be put in the hands of anyone who wanted to have a go.

The original Brown Box is on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

A demonstration from 1969.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 8, '14, 3:58 am 
Oh no, very sad to hear this news about Mr. Baer's passing. All video game fans owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his contributions and accomplishments in the tech/video game industry. May he rest in peace, and condolences to his family. :tombstone: :rose:

Reading this story about Mr. Baer made me remember back when he celebrated his 90th birthday and the link to the Fringes topic on that can be found here:


And, here's an article with a picture of Mr. Baer being honored with the National Medal Of Technology by President Bush. I love the comment Mr. Baer made about all those folks who thought he should stop doing his work. So glad he did not listen to them. ... 0-6424058/

PostPosted: Mon Dec 8, '14, 4:33 am 
A nice history lesson here, a very interesting read on how he went on to do what he did. May he rest in peace.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, '14, 12:05 am 
Man, I loved the Odyssey II. i technically played my first RPG on that system, "Quest for the Rings." Or something similar to that name. It was your average LOTR ripoff with horrible graphics and gameplay, but interesting concept.

 Page 1 of 1  [ 4 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

Display posts from previous:
Sort by  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to: