Ralph H. Baer was born in 1922 in Germany. He and his family immigrated to New York, New York in 1938. Baer used part of his factory wages to enroll in a correspondence course in radio repair from the National Radio Institute. He became a radio service technician upon his course completion in 1940. Baer ran several repair shops, fixing both radios and early television sets. He was drafted in 1943 by the United States Army and served in the military intelligence division during World War II.
Upon his return to the United States, Baer attended the American Television Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. In 1949, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Television Engineering. For the next seven years, Baer worked as an engineer at several electronics firms on projects ranging from electro-medical equipment to television receivers. He joined Sanders Associates in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1956. At Sanders, Baer built airborne radar components, clandestine radio equipment, and high-density circuit boards, among other products. He also began work on the first home video game systems, known at Sanders as “TV Games,” culminating in 1972’s Magnavox Odyssey game console; this is commonly referred to as the first commercial video game console. Baer operated the research and development groups at Sanders, developing video-based training systems, advanced video game technology, and interactive video game systems.
Baer founded Ralph H. Baer Consultants in the mid-1970s, later collaborating with design firms like Marvin Glass & Associates, Smith Engineering, and Phil Orbanes Productions. He continued to provide independent research and development services to Sanders Associates for the next two decades. In 2006, Baer received the National Medal of Technology. Four years later, he was inducted into the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame for his pioneering work with television technologies and video games. Baer passed away at his home in Manchester, New Hampshire, on December 6, 2014.