These days we see big companies and corporation selling video game consoles. It is a billion dollar industry, but not many people know that the home video game console industry was kickstarted by a man called Ralph Baer. He is often referred to as the father of the video game console. He developed the Brown Box back in the ’60s when we was working as an engineer at a defense contractor. The Brown Box would later go on to become the Magnavox Odyssey.
Baer’s employer, a military contractor called Sanders Associates, applied for a patent for his invention in 1971, which was granted in 1973 and exists to this day as US Patent No. 3,728,480.
The Brown Box system was then licensed to Magnavox which released it as the Odyssey in 1972. It didn’t have much when you compare it with today’s gaming consoles. The Odyssey was battery powered, couldn’t produce sound and had translucent overlays to simulate color graphics on television screens. Still it sold almost 100,000 units in 1972 and that was five years before Atari took the world by storm with the 2600 console.
A prototype of Brown Box is a permanent fixture at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2006 Baer was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush for his “groundbreaking and pioneering” contributions to the video game industry.
Baer passed away at the age of 92 on Saturday, The New York Times confirms.
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