TV Game Unit #1, 1967

From this assemblage of metal, wires and glass tubes, the future of video games would be built.
In 1966, while working for Sanders Associates Inc., engineer Ralph Baer began to look into new ways to use television, focusing specifically on interactive games. In 1967, he created the first of several video game test units. Called TVG#1 or TV Game Unit #1, this device, when used with an alignment generator, produced a dot on the television screen that could be manually controlled by the user. Now that he was able to interact with the television, Baer could design increasingly sophisticated interfaces and programs.
TV Game Unit #1 was designed by Baer and built with the assistance of Bob Tremblay, a technician who worked with Baer at Saunders. Though transistors were available, Baer, who had received his bachelor’s in television engineering, choose to use the familiar and proven technology of vacuum tubes for this early test unit.
Like all the Ralph Baer prototypes, TV Game Unit #1 was used as evidence in many patent infringement cases. It still bears many of the court exhibit labels left over from these trials, as may be seen from the photograph.
Currently not on view
Object Name
vacuum tube spot generator
Date made
Baer, Ralph H.
patent holder
Baer, Ralph H.
Physical Description
aluminum (overall material)
glass (overall material)
overall: 4 1/4 in x 6 in x 5 in; 10.795 cm x 15.24 cm x 12.7 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Computers & Business Machines
Family & Social Life
Popular Entertainment
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Ralph H. Baer
Related Publication
Baer, Ralph H.. Videogames: In The Beginning
Additional Media

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