Long before the Xbox came the Brown Box, a creation that defense contractor engineer Ralph Baer and colleagues built in the late 1960s that would become known as the first real video game system. The video game industry this week mourns Baer, a German-born American who has passed away at the age of 92.
Baer worked on what would become the first multi-player video game console while employed at defense contractor Sanders Associates, which licensed it to TV maker Magnovox. That company brought the system to market in 1972 as the Odyssey, and spawned what is now an industry worth tens of billions of dollars.
That original system, which worked on TV sets, included games such as ping pong, checkers and target shooting. Baer donated his early models and schematics to the Smithsonian Institution and the collection can be found at the National Museum of American History.
Baer told his own story in a book published in 2005 called "Videogames in the Beginning."
Baer's accomplishments, which also included creating popular electronic toys like the single-chip memory game Simon and early work on CD-ROMs and digital imagery, have been recognized many times over. He was named a National Medal of Technology winner in 2004 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010.
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