It’s a sad day for video games as Ralph Baer, the “father of video games,” has died at the age of 92.
He was a prolific inventor who earned more than 150 patents in his life, but his most famous work was creating a machine known as the Brown Box. It was later released in 1972 as the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console. Gamasutra confirmed Baer’s passing.
It’s a reminder for us all that the video game industry is still pretty young, and many of its pioneers are still alive. But Baer’s passing is also a a clarion call for preserving the industry’s history and honoring its professionals while they’re still alive.
Baer earned the National Medal of Technology — the nation’s highest honor for inventors — from President George W. Bush in 2006 for Baer’s work in starting the video game industry. He invented toys such as the light gun, a peripheral for video game consoles. He also created the interactive memory game, Simon.
He was born in Germany in 1922, but his family fled from the Nazis two months before the Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, when they attacked Jewish businesses and homes. His family moved to Holland and later to the U.S.
“Ralph was a man who truly saw beyond his time,” said Chris Melissinos, a strategy and business development director at Verizon Communications and a game historian. “Through his endless curiosity, he was able to translate that sight into remarkable technology that ignited the modern video game industry. Kind, driven and inspired, his voice will be missed.”