ROCHESTER, NY—The late Ralph Baer, known as the father of home video games and the first person to patent the idea of playing a video game on a television, spent more than four decades creating, inventing, and changing the landscape of play. The Strong museum, home to the World Video Game Hall of Fame, is pleased to announce that it has received a donation of prototype toys and technologies from Baer’s family that showcase his work and his creative thinking. The items add to the museum’s existing collection of Baer materials, which includes his personal papers and one of his desktop inventing workstations.
“Ralph Baer was a highly successful engineer in the defense industry, the progenitor of home video games, and lastly a prolific inventor of electronic toys. Such a successful career was made possible by his boundless curiosity, his incessant drive, and his knack for coaxing maximum play value out of new technologies,” says Jon-Paul Dyson, PhD, director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “Those qualities are ones that any of us might benefit from emulating, and so The Strong is proud to care for these products and offer a glimpse in Ralph Baer’s creative process. We are grateful to his family for donating them.”
Baer is known for his work in the video game industry, but in addition to creating the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, the first home console machine, Baer led a successful career in toy and handheld electronic game design, creating the matching game Simon and the plush bear TV Teddy, among many other products. This collection includes dozens of items in various stages of development, including a Big Bird Talking Bank, the Video Buddy interactive system, augmented GI Joe rescue set, Super Simon, along with various other pieces or concepts, including talking greeting cards, a twirling carnival ride, modified stuffed animals, and a toy phone. Together, along with the museum’s existing personal papers, they provide a window into Baer’s design process.
“My father escaped Nazi Germany as a child, and he spent much of his life after that thinking differently about the world and trying to introduce more fun and whimsy into it. He was a visionary and creative force who never stopped learning, inventing, and tinkering—even into his 90s,” says Mark W. Baer, his son and the Trustee of the Ralph H. Baer Trust. “I am pleased—over the moon really—that we have had the pleasure and honor of working with The Strong museum and now guests and scholars to The Strong will be able to view and take inspiration from my father’s work for generations to come.”
Some of the items in the collection will be included in an upcoming display later in 2020 and are available to researchers by appointment.
About The Strong
The Strong is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It is one of the largest history museums in the United States and one of the leading museums serving families. The Strong houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play and is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play. Together, these enable a multifaceted array of research, exhibition, and other interpretive and educational activities that serve a diverse audience of adults, families, children, students, teachers, scholars, collectors, and others around the globe.