Father of Video Games Ralph H. Baer Donates Extensive Collection to ICHEG

International Center for the History of Electronic Games News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 • 585-263-2700 • museumofplay.org

May 11, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact: Susan Trien, 585-410-6359, strien@thestrong.org

 “Father of Video Games” Ralph H. Baer
Donates Extensive Collection to
International Center for the History of Electronic Games®

ROCHESTER, New York—Ralph H. Baer, the innovative video game pioneer who helped launch a multibillion dollar industry and is widely recognized as “the father of video games,” has donated an extensive collection documenting four decades of his illustrious career in electronic game and toy design to The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG). The Ralph H. Baer Papers (1960s–2009) include original diagrams, schematics, engineering notes, and patents that show the scope of his work during the formative years of the burgeoning video game industry.

 “Ralph Baer changed our world when he figured out a way to play games on a home television screen in 1966,” says Jon-Paul Dyson, director of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “His donation to ICHEG opens an important window into the seminal years of electronic games when individuals and companies explored the best uses for these technologies, including integration into toy products and distribution by cable broadcasting—a foreshadowing of the high connectivity of today’s games.”  

 “I am very pleased to see these materials preserved and very much aware of the importance of ICHEG’s efforts to preserve these and other materials that document the history of electronic games,” says Baer.

 The Ralph H. Baer Papers document Baer’s major contribution to the development of commercial and educational electronic toys and games—in particular, his work with toy design firm Marvin Glass and Associates (1975–1982), video game pioneer Jay Smith III of Smith Engineering (1981–1987), and independent toy and game designer Phillip E. Orbanes (1987– 2001). Notable electronic toys and games represented in the collection include Computer Perfection, Maniac, M.A.S.K. Laser Command, Smarty Bear, Sounds By Me, his world-famous Simon, and numerous others licensed to firms such as Coleco, Ideal, Kenner, and Milton Bradley. These papers join an earlier donation made by Baer. 

A working replica of Baer’s 1968  Brown Box—the first home video game, which debuted commercially in 1972 as the Magnavox Odyssey—is on display in eGameRevolution, an exhibit at the National Museum of Play produced by the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. (On the photograph above: Ralph H. Baer (L) and ICHEG Director Jon-Paul Dyson (R) stand beside the replica of Baer's 1968 Brown Box in ICHEG's eGameRevolution exhibit, on view at the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York)   

The International Center for the History of Electronic Games collects, studies, and interprets video games and other electronic games and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other. ICHEG holds the largest and most comprehensive public collection of video and other electronic games and game-related historical materials in the United States and one of the largest in the world. ICHEG’s collection includes more than 26,000 video games, systems, and related materials that illustrate how the games have been conceived, developed, sold, and used. These materials include packaging, advertising, publications, electronic game inspired consumer products, literary and popular inspirations of electronic game imagery, personal and business papers, and other associated artifacts and documents that represent or illustrate the impact of electronic games on people’s lives.

 Learn more about ICHEG at www.icheg.org.