HONORING A PIONEER

From Old School Gamer Magazine – July 2019

In January 2000, Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine, which at the time was the world’s best-selling magazine about videogames, published my seven-piece article about Ralph Baer, the inventor of the home videogame console. In the 35 years since he had come across his Eureeka! moment on a New York City bench on August 31, 1966, Baer kept in the background as others claimed to invent videogames. By the time the article was published there were few people in the industry who had any idea who Ralph Baer was, and most importantly, what he had accomplished. After EGM published my article The Baer Essentials, Ralph Baer’s name and accomplishments had been introduced to a new generation of videogame executives, developers and fans. Before long Baer began getting invited to conferences around the world and he began receiving prestigious honors such an induction into the Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana in 2002. This culminated with Baer receiving the National Medal of Technology from President George Bush at the White House on February 13, 2006.

After that award, the 83-year old Baer began limiting his personal appearances. Although he still travelled to industry shows such as the Game Developers Conference in 2007 and to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010, he began withdrawing from fan-centric shows such as PAX East and Classic Gaming Expo (CGE). He once told me that nothing else could compare to receiving the National Medal of Technology. Nothing could top receiving recognition from the government of the United States for your endeavors.

Baer also told me several times that my EGM article was the catalyst that brought him to this new level of fame. I wasn’t going to argue the point with him.

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