THE INSTITUTE Gamers and coin collectors alike can now celebrate Ralph Baer’s contributions with an American Innovation dollar from the U.S. Mint. Baer, an IEEE Fellow who is considered the father of the video game, developed the Brown Box, which paved the way for modern home video game consoles including the PlayStation and Xbox.
The Brown Box offered table tennis, football, and other games. It let people play on almost any television and thus spawned the commercialization of interactive video games.
The New Hampshire American Innovation coin, which recognizes the first in-home video game console, mimics an arcade token. It depicts a Brown Box game—handball—on one side. On the other side, the words New Hampshire and Player 1 are engraved on a stamped background. The words In-home video game system and Baer’s name encircle the outside in text that is meant to pay homage to Baer’s Odyssey game.
The coin “honors a story wherein an individual, Ralph H. Baer, made a great and positive difference in our lives and that would not have happened without the time, place, and opportunity that his life in America presented,” his son Mark said in an interview with the Manchester, N.H., Ink Link. “It is good to keep that in mind, particularly in these divisive times. To be sure, we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to celebrate.”