Ralph H. Baer was the inventor of the video game console. He began working on a prototype for the game console back in 1966.Here’s his fascinating story.
His initial design of a “game box” was scribbled in a note pad when he was working as an engineer, supervising several hundred employees for a military company. His initial work piqued the interest of his superiors, who then gave him some working capital to the tune of $2500.
A few years of work later, in 1971, Baer and his employer Sanders Associates in Nashua, N.H. filed for the first ever video game patent. Patent No. 3,728,480 was granted two years later. Now, it’s important to note that this patent covered a fairly large segment in the claim, including any device capable of controlling movement on a screen on a domestic television.
Magnavox was the first licensor of the video game console. They sold well over 100,000 units of the game console in the first year.
Over the years, several lawsuits flew across the border as well as within the country, including one with Atari. Magnavox won several lawsuits to the tune of over USD 100 million. Take into account the historical cost of that money for a moment.
From that simple contraption, also called by the creators as a “brown box”, the game console has erupted into the massive market it is today in the gaming verse. Baer had more than 150 patents, both local and domestic, to his name including for products such as submarine tracking systems.
According to an article in the New York Times, “along with Howard Morrison, he invented the electronic game Simon, which was introduced at Studio 54 in Manhattan in 1978 and became a pop culture phenomenon in the 1980s. A saucer-shaped plastic toy with four colored buttons, it lit up and emitted tones in a sequence that the player then had to reproduce. It is still being sold.”
We’ll keep adding more content about the start of the video game industry and how different it is today. Tune in every week for a quick snapshot of the next topic.