5.15.2007

Epiphany, Take Two
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(this is part two, go back to the previous post for part 1)

Ralph Baer was already a seasoned engineer at Sanders Associates when he visited New York City on a business trip in 1966. Near the end of his stay, the then-44-year-old Jewish immigrant and World War II veteran -- whose family fled Nazi Germany shortly before Kristallnacht in 1938 -- found himself waiting at a bus terminal for an associate to arrive. As he rested on a concrete step, Baer basked in the warm late-August sun and set his mind adrift in a sea of thought. It was there that Baer had his "eureka" moment. The concept of playing games on an ordinary TV set bubbled up from the depths of his subconscious. Amazingly, Baer says that the idea for TV games had occurred to him briefly before, as early as 1951, while designing a television set for Loral Electronics. But in 1966 -- at a different company and in a more influential position -- it seemed that it might be the perfect time to develop the idea further. Baer scribbled down notes as fast as they came to him. Those notes became the foundation of his first formal "TV games" patent disclosure document, dated September 1, 1966. He wrote it out in exquisite detail when he returned to New Hampshire, making sure to fix his thoughts during that decisive moment in history firmly on paper.



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