Everyone with a Play Station or a Wii, or even anyone who spends time playing games or using apps like Angry Birds, owes Ralph Baer a debt of gratitude. Baer invented the first the first home video game system and applied for the first video game patent in 1971. In 1972, Baer’s employer, Sanders Associates, licensed what he called a “game box” to Magnavox, which put the Odyssey video game console on the market. Baer, who collected more than 150 patents during the course of his engineering and programming career, died on Saturday at the age of 92.
The Odyssey console had a master control unit, player controls, and program cards to support various games. It also came with a deck of cards, poker chips, and dice (this was 1972, after all). Odyssey was all hardware, which included 40 transistors and 40 diodes. The console sold only 130,000 units that first year, but it started the age of video games, which has continued to barrel along ever since.