The Father of the Video Game: The Ralph Baer Prototypes and Electronic Games
By the 1960s, millions of Americans had invested in televisions for their homes, and it soon became clear that this technology could be used for more that passively watching television shows. In 1966, while working for Sanders Associates Inc., engineer Ralph Baer began to investigate how to play games on a television. Between 1967 and 1969, he and colleagues Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch created several video game test units. This result was the “Brown Box,” a prototype for the first multiplayer, multiprogram video game system. Sanders licensed the system to Magnavox. In 1972, Magnavox released the design as the Magnavox Odyssey, paving the way for all video game systems that followed.
Ralph Baer donated his video game test units, production models, notes, and schematics to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 2006. His papers are kept in the Museum's Archives Center. In 2014, the Museum collected his workshop to become the landmark object for its Innovation Wing.
"The Father of the Video Game: The Ralph Baer Prototypes and Electronic Games - Introduction" showing 11 items.
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- This strange-looking contraption was actually used to play an early video game.
- To play the golf game on the “Brown Box,” a prototype for the first multiplayer, multiprogram video game system, Baer and his colleagues mounted a golf ball on a joystick handle. This allowed the player to use a real golf club to practice his or her putting skills. Magnavox licensed the "Brown Box" and released the system as the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. Though it was never produced commercially, the golf accessory was covered with brown wood-grain, self-adhesive vinyl so that it would match the "Brown Box."
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- patent holder
- Baer, Ralph H.
- Baer, Ralph H.
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center