This year would have seen the 100th birthday of Ralph Baer, as I’ve noted, and now that the weather’s nice they’re going to celebrate it in Manchester, where he lived for more than half his life.
The event will take place Saturday (May 21) in Arms Park in Manchester, where there’s a statue of Ralph on a park bench. It starts at 1 pm with speeches and memories, followed by activities at the SEE Science Center beginning at 2:30 pm. Details are here.
Ralph, who died at age 92, developed the first home video game that plugged into a TV while working at Sanders Associates (now part of BAE Systems) in Nashua. It became the Magnavox Odyssey.
I first heard of Ralph when his book “Videogames: In the Beginning” landed on my newsroom desk in 2005. He had written it partly out of irritation at all of the attention given to Nolan Bushnell, who is often called the “father of video games” for developing the coin-operated Pong game long after Baer did his work. My stories were one of the first general news articles of his work, although it was pretty well known within video-game circles.
In the years since then recognition poured in. Baer awarded the National Medal of Technology in a White House ceremony, inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, had the workshop from the basement of his Manchester home turned into an exhibit in a Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C., and named a fellow of the IEEE, the professional organization of electrical engineers. That’s not counting the statue and park in Manchester.
This 2015 column summarizes it.