+
More

His wife and friends are all passed on. So he invents. Meet Ralph Baer, the 'Father of Video Games.'

Ralph Baer's family immigrated to the United States in 1938, when it was clear the direction that Germany, his country of birth, was heading.

True
Carnegie Corporation of New York

If you've ever played a console video game at home, thank this guy.

Check out this story of Ralph Baer, a pioneer of electronic gaming, from "PBS Inventors."

<span class="redactor-invisible-space"></span>

Ralph Baer's family immigrated to the United States in 1938, when it was clear the direction that Germany, his country of birth, was heading.

They were a Jewish family in a country that was about to murder and imprison all the Jewish people who could be found.


Baer's family escaped just two months before Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the beginning of the Holocaust.

They chose New York City as a place to flourish.

♬ ♪ It's up to YOU, New York, New York. Bahmp bahmp badda bumph. ♫♩Image via public domain.

Baer worked in a factory until he saw an ad for classes in the electronics field, which was a new frontier at the time.

It lit him up — pun intended — and he worked various jobs in that field, ending up at a defense contractor where he developed electronic systems for military applications.

"Wow! All those circuits and moving parts, and it writes in cursive! I'mma get my phone out and post this to ... oh, wait. It's 1940."

Out of that fertile breeding ground of ideas sprang the first modern home video game console system.

Called a “brown box" because of the brown duct tape he and his crew wrapped it in, it was the prototype for the Magnavox Odyssey game system, first released in 1972.

The original Magnavox Odyssey. Homer and cyclops not included. Image in public domain.

He actually had the idea for a home game system in 1951, but the company he worked for at the time didn't bite at all. (Kinda like the record company that told the early Beatles: “Thanks for the demo. We'll call you. No, really we will.")

That very same year, the "Pong" standalone arcade gaming system — think bars and bowling alleys — hit the market, made by another company. (Pop quiz: Who made "Pong" and turned it into a household name? Hint: rhymes with Qatari.)

In effect, "Pong" was conquering the arcade while Magnavox was winning the home market. Atari didn't even try to capture the home market for three more years.

Baer continued to invent throughout his life.

Baer had over 150 patents at the time of his death in 2014, including for electronic greeting cards and tracking systems for submarines.

Beyond his visionary contributions to video games, he also helped develop several other well-known games in other formats, such as Simon, Super Simon, and Maniac. Remember the Simon game?

"Well you know my name is Simon, and the things I draw" ... sorry. Wrong Simon. Image in public domain.

In 2004, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology "for his groundbreaking and pioneering creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games, which spawned related uses, applications, and mega-industries in both the entertainment and education realms."


People asked him why he wanted to keep inventing, keep creating, at age 90. His response was simple.

He explained that his wife and all of his friends had passed on. "What am I going to do?"

Indeed, Ralph.

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

Teen raises $186,000 to help Walmart worker retire.

In America, many people have to work well past the age of retirement to make ends meet. While some of these people choose to work past retirement age because it keeps them active, some older people, like Nola Carpenter, 81, work out of necessity.

Carpenter has been working at Walmart for 20 years, way beyond most people's retirement age just so that she can afford to continue to pay her mortgage. When 19-year-old Devan Bonagura saw the woman looking tired in the break room of the store, he posted a video to his TikTok of Carpenter with a text overlay that said, "Life shouldn't b this hard..." complete with a sad face emoji.

In the video, Carpenter is sitting at a small table looking down and appearing to be exhausted. The caption of the video reads ":/ I feel bad." Turns out, a lot of other people did too, and encouraged the teen to start a GoFundMe, which has since completed.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

US players comforting Iranian opponents after their World Cup match is humanity at its best

The politically charged match ended with several beautiful displays of genuine human connection.

US and Iranian players embrace after World Cup match-up.

The lead-up to the 2022 World Cup match between the U.S. and Iran was filled with anticipation, as the teams battled for a spot in the final 16 and long-running tensions between the two nations on the political stage rose to the surface.

The Iranian team had some internal tensions of its own to deal with as players navigated the spotlight amid human rights protests in their home country and rigid expectations of their government. According to CNN, after refusing to sing the national anthem before its match against England on November 21, the Iranian team was reportedly called into a meeting with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and told that their families would face “violence and torture” if they did not sing the anthem or engaged in any other form of protest.

Hence, before the match against the U.S., the players were shown somberly singing the anthem. Then they got down to the business they were there for—trying to win (or at least tie) a soccer match to advance to the World Cup round of 16.

It was an exciting game, with the U.S. ultimately winning 1-0. But in the end, all of the intense competition and political tensions were superseded by some truly heartwarming acts of good sportsmanship and human kindness.

Keep ReadingShow less

Philadelphia is taking the city back to the past.

Remember when calling your parents, a tow truck or a friend when you were out and about meant digging in your pocket for a quarter to make a pay phone call? Well, a Philadelphia-based collective, PhilTel, is jumping into the past with a modern twist, by installing free-to-use pay phones throughout the city.

Of course, the pay phones that many of us grew up were removed from public places years ago. There no longer seemed to be a need for them when most people had a phone in their pocket or in their hand. But it's easy to forget that not everyone has or wants that luxury. For some people, staying that connected all the time can be too much and for others, it's simply financially impossible to own a cell phone.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jaleel Akbash on Unsplash

Japanese soccer fans explain why they clean the stadium after a match.

Japanese fans at the World Cup tournament have been receiving praise for their admirable habit of cleaning up the stadium after their team's matches. It's commonplace to see Japanese fans, blue garbage sacks in hand, hanging back after the game to pick up the trash everyone has left behind in the stadium.

It's not the first time Japanese cleanliness has made headlines. Some schools in Japan don't even hire janitorial staff, as the students clean their schools themselves. Other than in specific educational programs such as Montessori (where practical skills and habits like cleaning and organizing the environment are incorporated into the pedagogy), that idea is practically unheard of in the U.S. But watching the Japanese fans picking up after a game, the automatic assumption that someone else is going to clean up after us feels like a mistake.

So what is it that compels Japanese fans to clean the stadium at the World Cup, despite the fact that there are people hired to do it already?

It generally comes down to one word: "atarimae."

Keep ReadingShow less