Ralph Baer: Big Daddy of Video Games
Ralph Baer is sometimes known as the father of video games. One of his early inventions, sold as the Magnavox Odyssey, was the first home video game system.
Ralph Baer was born in Germany in 1922, and left this country for the USA in 1938. Once he graduated National Radio Institute (NRI) as radio service technician, he ran several radio service shops in NY City between 1940 and 1943, serviced all types of home and auto radios and built PA systems.
He served in the US Army between 1943 and 1946: one year stateside, two years overseas in Europe during WWII – He was assigned to the Military Intelligence (MI), attached to Eisenhower’s HQ in London, but stationed in France. He became a recognized expert on military small arms (and returned to the US with18 tons of foreign small arms).
Between 1946 and 1949, he attended to the American Television Institute of Technology (ATIT) in Chicago. He graduated with BS in Television Engineering and built television studio equipment while at ATIT.
Between 1945-1950, he was the Chief and Engineer at Wappler Inc, a small electro-medical equipment firm in NYC.
Between 1951-1952, he worked at Loral Electronics (Bronx, NY) as a Senior Engineer; there he worked on IBM time punch clock equipment, developed an analog computer for military radar systems, and also built a complete television receiver.
Between 1952-1956, he worked as a Chief Engineer (later VP Engineering) at Transitron,Inc in NYC. He moved to Manchester, New Hampshire in 1955 with the firm.
1956-1958 is the most important period. He joined Sanders Associates Inc (Nashua, NH) as a Staff Engineer to the Manager of Equipment Design Division. In 1958, he became the manager of the Equipment Design Division himself.
1958-1970 is the most interesting period. Ralph worked on alpha-numeric projection displays, as well as multi-layer printed circuit boards and many other R&D programs.
It is in 1966 that Ralph made a revolutionary invention: the video game. This long story started at Sanders Associates. Later in 1972, the first commercial video game system was released by Magnavox: Odyssey.
Interview Courtesy: David Friedman