Obit: Ralph H. Baer, Inventor of first home video game

Ralph H. Baer, inventor of the first home video game system, recently passed away at the age of 92. A television engineer by training, Baer had a vision in 1966 of an interactive gaming system that could be used with any television set. With the support of his employer, Baer perfected his system and patented it in 1972 (US 3,659,285). A second patent issued in 1973 (US 3,728,480) was the subject of much litigation in the 1970s and 1980s. Baer’s “Television Gaming Apparatus” launched the video game industry that today has annual revenues of more than $80 billion worldwide.

Baer eventually received 45 U.S. patents and dozens more in other countries. His first two video game patents have been cited in approximately 180 US patents. Video games are classified in the CPC under A63F 13/00 and its subgroups, which contain more than 36,000 patent documents.

An earlier version of a video (but not television) game was invented in 1957 by Luther Simjian of Greenwich, Connecticut. Simjian’s “Golf Game” (US 2,783,999) used a combined computing and projection system to simulate the distance and trajectory of a golf ball in flight.

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