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Inventor Ralph Baer, 'the Father of Video Games,' dies at 92

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Ralph Baer, the engineer and inventor who was instrumental in the development of the first home video game console, has died at age 92, Gamasutra reports.

While working for Sanders Associates Inc., Baer designed the first concepts for a device that could play games on a television. With colleagues Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch, Baer created several video game prototypes between 1967 and 1969. They developed the original "Brown Box," a prototype game system that allowed players to play ping-pong and shoot targets with a light gun. Sanders Associates licensed the system to Magnavox, who released the system as the Odyssey in 1972.

Baer's invention laid the very groundwork for the home video game industry. He later developed electronic games Simon, Maniac and Computer Perfection. Baer holds more than 150 U.S. and foreign patents, according to his personal website.

Baer was born in Germany in 1922 and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1938. After graduating from the National Radio Institute as a radio service technician, Baer served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He joined Sanders Associates in 1956 as staff engineer to the manager of the equipment design division.

In 2006, Baer donated his video game prototypes, schematics and notes to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. That same year, he was presented with the National Medal of Technology for his groundbreaking and pioneering creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games.