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 Goodbye Ralph H. Baer, and Thank You.

It's a sad day: Ralph Baer, "father of video games" and one of the cornerstones of the early video game industry, has died at 92 on December 6, 2014.

In 1966, Ralph H. Baer came up with the concept of a "television gaming apparatus." This device included both a chase game and a video tennis game and could be attached to a normal television set. There were about 40 million TV sets in the U.S. homes alone in 1966, to say nothing of many more millions of TV sets in the rest of the world. They were literally begging to be used for something other than watching commercial television broadcasts!

 

"I can never thank Ralph enough
for what he gave to me
and everyone else."

Steve Wozniak
Co-founder Apple Computers

---

 

On January 27, 2015 we celebrate the sixth birthday of the Pong Museum. We have had a wonderful start and were able to collect many fascinating Pong systems in the last years. The museum is promoted on many websites - among them switched.com, boingboing.net, retromagazine.eu and MoOM. We had a nice chat with Jamillah Knowles from BBC Radio on air in the UK. Mr. Ralph H. Baer, inventor of Home Video Games and the Odyssey, signed our museums Odyssey 200 in Berlin on July 29, 2009. Also, our Pong Clock # 283 has been signed by the designer Sander Mulder. About 310.000 people have visited the museums page within four years and around 1.650.000 pages have been viewed.

The museum is officially opened since January 27, 2009 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of video ping-pong and the birthday of the Magnavox Odyssey 37 years ago. Any information, input, contributions or anything related to Pong systems will be greatly appreciated - please contact us. Have a look to our Golden Book. Klicken Sie hier für die deutsche Version.

 An email from Ralph H. Baer - January 26, 2009

Hello Oliver,

this may be the 37th birthday of the Magnavox Odyssey game but it's also the 40th birthday of the video ping-pong. It might be nice if you included the short video of Bill Harrison and me playing ping-pong back in 1969, which I am attaching.

Good luck with your new site,

Ralph H. Baer

 And here it is - Ralph H. Baer and Bill Harrison playing Video Ping-Pong in 1969

Courtesy of Ralph H. Baer

While the B&W movie of Bill Harrison and me was indeed taped in 1969, we played the first ping-pong games in December of 1967 in preparation for a January 1968 visit by Teleprompter execs whom we had invited and considered as possible licensees. We then thought that videogames would best fit the cable business. Teleprompter was one of the biggest cable networks in the 1960s. RHB


By early 1967, Ralph H. Baer had drafted Bill Harrison, a bright and capable Sanders technician, into the new project as his chief hardware guru. Harrison had loyalty and respect for Baer's knowledge and experience, and the two quickly found that they worked well together. With the idea of TV games burning in his imagination, Baer wasted no time to put his vision into practice.

Magnavox Odyssey

It took several years and numerous false starts, but in 1970, Baer showed the game to Magnavox, which signed a licensing agreement the following year. Then, on January 27, 1972, Magnavox launched Baer's "Brown Box" technology as the Odyssey video game console - the world's first home video game system. Priced at $100, the Odyssey utilized simple black-and-white graphics, and enhanced by plastic overlays for the television screen. Read more about the beginnings of video gaming industry at the History section.

Atari PONG

Also in 1972, inspired by an early peek at Baer's original video tennis game, Nolan Bushnell and his Atari company released an electronic arcade game called PONG, which became a huge success. In September 1972, a prototype was tested on top of a barrel as the first commercial coin-operated machine in a tavern in Sunnyvale, CA, called "Andy Capp's.". The video game revolution had begun... From 1972 through 1976, you couldn't go to a pub or arcade without finding a long line at the PONG machine.

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