Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of the first home video game system, died Saturday in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was 92.
Before Nintendo, PlayStation, and even Atari, there was the Odyssey. Baer, working as an engineer with a military contractor, started outlining a "game box" in 1966 while waiting for a friend, The New York Times reports. His boss gave him $2,000 to research the idea and $500 for materials, as well as two people to help. They went through prototype after prototype in their secret workshop, and in 1972, licensed their system to Magnavox, which sold it as the Odyssey.
During that first year, 130,000 were sold for $100 — later, Baer said he thought more would have been purchased had they gone for his suggested price of $19.95. Throughout his career, Baer received 150 patents in the United States and around the world, and created the game Simon, talking doormats, and a submarine tracking system. In 2010, he was admitted to the national Inventors Hall of Fame.
"Coming up with novel ideas and converting them into real products has always been as natural as breathing for me," Baer said in his 2005 autobiography. He is survived by two sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren.