Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
April 23, 2014
arrowPress Releases
April 23, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM TechWeb sites:


Video game inventor demonstrates multimedia box...in 1973
August 7, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

August 7, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi
Comments
    11 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, History, Video





Thanks to Germany's Computer Spiele Museum a rare piece of history is now available online: a 1973 demonstration by Ralph Baer, the inventor of home video games, about the potential of a multimedia set-top box.

If you'd simply like to see the only existing footage of Ralph Baer and collaborator Bill Harrison playing with the "Brown Box" video game unit they designed together, that starts at around 6:48, and is a delight in itself ("Well, here we are, playing ping pong when we ought to be working."). But the rest of the video shows just how ahead of their time Baer and his team were.

Using technology available at the time ("We've tried to cut out the blue sky dreaming, what we'll show you today are concepts and hardware that are practical right now.") Baer demonstrates a concept for something akin to an all-in-one multimedia box that plays games, lets users shop by mail-order, has educational components, and even pay-for-TV applications.

Without the use of microprocessors, these applications were extremely simple by today's technology, and required broadcasters to dedicate air time to specialized programming, but what Baer was able to squeeze out of such limited technology is astounding.

At one point, Baer even suggests that the games themselves could be provided by advertisers, making this video perhaps the first documented suggestion we have of ad-supported video games, barely a year after the original Magnavox Odyssey (the first video game console, which used technology licensed from Baer's patents) was released. It would appear that ad-supported games were around, at least conceptually, from the very beginning.

Apparently the demonstration didn't inspire any partners for the "All Purpose Box" (Baer's book doesn't even make mention of it), but as a piece of history, this video is priceless.


Related Jobs

Blur Studio
Blur Studio — Culver City, California, United States
[04.23.14]

3dsMax FX Artist
CCP
CCP — Reykjavik, Iceland
[04.23.14]

Visual Effects Artist
Square Enix Co., Ltd.
Square Enix Co., Ltd. — Tokyo, Japan
[04.23.14]

Programmers
SOAR Inc.
SOAR Inc. — Mountain View, California, United States
[04.23.14]

Game Designer/Narrative Writer










Comments


mike madden
profile image
This is beautiful and fantastic that its been preserved

Carl Chavez
profile image
I wonder how many patent trolls' jaws just dropped.

Jeferson Soler
profile image
@ Carl Chavez - Hopefully, too many to count!

Kale Menges
profile image
This man has NEVER been given anywhere near the credit he deserves. He is more important to our industry than even the likes of people like Bill Gates or Shigeru Miyamoto.

Jeferson Soler
profile image
@ Kale Menges - Miyamoto is still very important to the industry, but having said that, I agree with you that Ralph Baer didn't/doesn't get enough credit for what he accomplished and for the ideas that he had. In my opinion, he surpasses Steve Jobs and Bill Gates when it comes to tech ingenuity, and if it wasn't for Ralph Baer, we wouldn't even have home videogames. In any case, it is incredible that Baer had the idea for a multi-media system (and even more) before anyone else.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Aaron Casillas
profile image
Awesome...he wasn't standing on the shoulders of Giants, he was instead surrounded by midgets.

John Tynes
profile image
Did you guys notice his Pong had an awesome extra control? You could apply "English" to the ball while in flight. Nolan Bushnell must have dropped that when he shipped Pong for arcades.

Frank Cifaldi
profile image
Boy do you have your history wrong. The Brown Box pre-dates Pong by something like 4-5 years. That patented tech was licensed by Magnavox to build the first video game console, the Odyssey, which Bushnell took "inspiration" from for Pong. The Odyssey has that English option too.

Aaron Casillas
profile image
Busnell shoots from the knees, I hope to shoot from my toes.

Robert Polzin
profile image
If they were taking about things like this in 73. Just imagine the ideas they're propsing now a days for 40+ years from now. Holy cow.


none
 
Comment: