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Oral History of Gaming: Ralph Baer and His All-Purpose Boxes

November 16, 2009, 2:57pm

Back in the late 60s, German-born gadgeteer Ralph Baer began inventing what later became known as video games. Over the ensuing decades he would develop Pong, the rifle you could point at the screen that was the precursor to the Duck Hunt shotgun, and the germ of countless other important concepts that the gaming industry is founded on. Simon, too! He invented that.

He was also one of the first people to dip a toe in the murky waters now known as television commerce, but of course nobody with any money in the early 70s had much interest in latching onto the idea that people would one day impulse shop for crappy wares on their televisions. So Baer instead recast the idea, developing a small wooden video game console that attached to a TV and could bring untold hours of lo-fidelity entertainment to rich kids in the suburbs.