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Posthumous Tech Council award: The late Ralph Baer's Pong was the game that started it all

By MIKE COTE
June 16. 2018 11:53PM
Ralph Baer poses with Milton Bradley's Simon, a video game he invented that debuted in 1978. Baer received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award last week from the New Hampshire High Tech Council on June 13, 2018. (BOB LAPREE/UNION LEADER FILE)



Back in the '70s, Mark Baer had pretty good street cred in the neighborhood: He could tell his buddies his dad invented Pong.

Mark Baer was in Nashua on Wednesday to accept a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award for Ralph H. Baer during the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

The presentation began with a screening of black-and-white footage from the late '60s during which Ralph Baer and a co-worker demonstrated the new video tennis game, showing how they could even put some spin on the ball. The simple lines and blips on a TV screen gave birth to an industry that generated nearly $109 billion in revenues in 2017.


In the mid-1960s, Baer and a small group of engineers at Sanders Associates in Nashua, which later became BAE Systems, pioneered video game technology. They licensed the technology to Magnavox, which produced the Odyssey in 1972, the world's first video game console.

Baer, who secured more than 150 patents, worked as an engineer and inventor after escaping Nazi Germany as a 16-year-old and also fought in World War II. He moved from New York to New Hampshire in the mid-1950s, and lived here until his death in 2014 at age 92.

"New Hampshire was a wonderful home to our family, and it gave us that opportunity to live in peace, to live our lives out, and to give my dad the opportunity to create, which is what he did," Mark Baer said. 

A fundraising campaign is underway in Manchester to honor Baer with a bench and sculpture of his likeness the Millyard. Organizers hope to break ground in the fall. 


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