It has been confirmed today that Ralph Baer, often referred to as the father of the video game, has passed away. He was 92.

Without Baer's pioneering work in the '60s and '70s, the modern video game industry would be totally different today. He created the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, which was the first commercially-released home video game console. It hit the market three years before Atari's Pong home console, which was heavily inspired by Baer's creation.

As well as creating the first games console, he also created the world's first light gun game — an expansion pack for the Odyssey called Shooting Gallery. Baer was a prolific inventor during his life, holding 150 patents at the time of his passing and creating products outside of the video game industry — Simon is perhaps one of his most famous toys.

Despite his pioneering success, Baer's work was overshadowed in the '70s by Nolan Bushnell's Atari, which arguably took Baer's ideas and turned them into a multi-million dollar industry. Debate has raged over the decades over which of the two men should be given the title of "the father of video games", but as Baer himself points out, Bushnell created the first arcade game in 1969's Computer Space while he came up with the concept of the world's first home console in 1966.

In 2006, Baer was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush in recognition of his work in the field of video games. Four years later he would be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Below you can see Baer showing off the "Brown Box" — a forerunner to the Odyssey — in 1969. For perspective, that's the same year that man landed on the Moon — almost 50 years ago.

Our thoughts are with Baer's family at this sad time. May he rest in peace — the entire video game industry and all the people who enjoy it owe him a massive, massive debt.

[via gamasutra.com]