Flashback 1968: Father of the Video Game Console Makes His Mark

Forty-nine years ago this month, Ralph Baer applied for a patent on a TV game system he designed that would become the first-ever home video game console.

It took Baer two years to find a company that would license the system. That company was Magnavox, which named the system Odyssey.

The original TV ads introduced Odyssey against a backdrop of Twilight Zone-esque music as a “new electronic game simulator.” The narrator went on to explain: “You attach Odyssey to your television set in seconds to create a closed circuit electronic playground.”

In a 2013 video, Baer recalled that Magnavox sold about 100,000 consoles in the first year and reached about 350,000 by 1974 when the video game console industry was still in its infancy.

In 2006, Baer received a National Medal of Technology from President George W. Bush in recognition of his role in developing and commercializing interactive video games. He is also known for the electronic memory game Simon, introduced by Milton Bradley in 1978.

In 2010, Baer was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame. He died in 2014.

Hear Baer tell his story in this short video: