Ralph Bear was born March 8, 1922 and he died December 6, 2014. He had a dual citizenship of Germany and America. He was a renowned inventor, video game developer and designer and as well as an Engineer. Ralph Baer was popularly known as the “father of video games”. He got married in 1952 to Dena Whinston who died in 2006 and the marriage was blessed with 3 children.


Ralph Bear who is also known as Ralph Henry Bear began his story and life in the town of Pirmasens, Germany on March 8, 1922. The father was known as a shoe factory worker in Germany. During the second world war his family fled to and emigrated to New York in 1938.

As a young teenager, Baer took a course on learning how to service radios and televisions in which in few months and eventually quitting the factory to fix radios.

In 1943, he became an intelligence officer in the United States Army. He was versatile in writing training document for Allied troops preparing for the D-Day.

At 21 years, he knew the importance of gaining knowledge and he used his spare time judiciously to study algebra and fixed radio and he was also an expert in small arms.

After his military service, he earned one of his first bachelor degrees in television engineering from the American Television Institute of Technology.

In 1956, he joined Sanders Associate and stayed there until 1987 when he finally left to focus in his engineering inventions.


In February 2006, due to his contribution of pioneering the creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games which spawned related uses in both the educational and entertainment realms he was awarded the “National Medal of Technologyby President George W. Bush.

In 2010, he was admitted to the “National Inventors Hall of Fame”.

Before his death, he donated much of his collection of early video game prototype to museums, including the Smithsonian Institution.


The man named “Ralph Bear” produced the first home video game console named “Brown box”. It was licensed to Magnavox and after being renamed Magnavox Odyssey. In 1966 he conceived the idea of playing games around the television screen and with the support of his employers he worked through several model until arrived at this game.

This invention took place during his stay as an employee of Sanders Associate in Nashua, New Hampshire. This happened after he had shared his ideas and visions with one of staff of the company who gave him $2500 and two engineers to work on the project.

In May 1972, the first home video game console was released to the public. It was given the U.S. Patent No. 3728480 on April 17, 1973 and it was jointly owned by Ralph Bear and BAE System.

In those days, program cards were used for games and it was all hardware. Baer went on to hold more than 150 U.S and foreign patents for his inventions, including everything from talking door mats and an automatic tone arm for programmable record players.



The first peripheral for video game known as the “light gun” was produced by Bear. Bear had a whole lot outstanding innovations to his name and he was very creative.


  • In 1978, he invented a well-known game called “Simon” a single chip microprocessor memory game. He created the game with Howard Morrison. It is a well-known pop sensation and it is still sold today.
  • Ping pong.
  • Handball.
  • Soccer.
  • Golf.
  • Volley ball.
  • Checkers.
  • Target shooting.


According to him on his own web site, he was struck by a thought while in transit. He said:

In 1966, thoughts about playing games using an ordinary TV set began to percolate in my mind. When I designed and built a TV set at Loral in 1955, I had proposed doing just that: build in a game to differentiate our TV set from the competition. Management said no and that was that. During a business trip to New York city on the last day of August in 1966, while waiting at a bus terminal for another Sanders engineer to come into town for a meeting with a client, I jotted down some notes on the subject of using ordinary home TV set to play games.”


The death of Ralph Bear could be termed as a death of an icon or a legend. He was an extra ordinary man who devoted his entire lifetime making an outstanding invention in which the aim was to make people happy. He invented dozens of toys and games and he was also the first to lose a video game.



Interesting, isn’t it?

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