Pong Creator Smokes Dutch Mayor to Open Festival of Games

The NLGD Festival of Games opened yesterday with a special Pong match between the game’s creator, Ralph Baer, and the mayor of the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Vertical Wire reports that the "heated" match was played on authentic, 1960’s-era equipment. After dispatching the mayor 2-nil, Baer gave the keynote address to open the conference, which was designed to promote the Netherlands as a European gaming hub.

Among those presenting at NLGD are serious games guru Ben Sawyer and Spore design team member Chaim Gingold.

UPDATE: A reader, Rob F, writes in to advise that we’ve got an error in this story regarding the origins of Pong:

[I] just wanted to point out that Ralph Baer did not create Pong, Nolan Bushnell/Al Alcorn did.  Also, Pong was released in the 70s, so I’m unsure what 60s era equipment they were playing on, maybe Baer’s Brown Box?  Think was also from the 70s, maybe late 60s.  Bushnell viewed Baer’s Table Tennis on the Odyssey (the first home console) and basically ripped Baer off.  I’m not a big fan of wikipedia, but from what I scanned they got it right.


Ralph wrote a book a couple years ago, it’s really good.  You can view a sample here.


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  1. 0
    JustChris says:

    According to my paperback book on video game history, Baer’s brown box was made in 1969 and was a prototype to the Magnavox Odyssey. The Pong machine wasn’t directly related to that. The first game Baer made with the box wasn’t actually a Pong-like game but a simple light gun game where you shoot white squares on the screen.

  2. 0
    Anonymous says:

    LOL Actually, it’s nice to hear a little bit more detail of the history of things.

    I suppose it’s like all major inventions, Television, Telephones etc, they seem to have risen in several places at once, and years later, there’s a whole load of confusion about who invented what :)

  3. 0
    Wes Grogan says:

    Having gone back and read the article again, it talked about it being played on a vintage 60’s era machine, which could actually be the Brown Box of Baer’s rather than the arcade Pong cabinet shown in the picture (it would have to be, actually, if it is indeed a sixties era machine), which would indeed be something Baer invented. It just ain’t Pong.

    All right, shutting up now.

  4. 0
    Wes Grogan says:

    To be overly technical, Al Alcorn was the man who invented Pong. The Odyssey had a game called Tennis or Tennis For Two, but it did not feature the characteristic sound effect of flipper physics that Pong features.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have a huge amount of respect for Ralph Baer and did have the utter priviledge of interviewing him and own a much valued copy of his book, but he didn’t invent Pong.

    It can be very confusing trying to figure out who stole what from whom.. Baer invented television gaming, Bushnell stole it, and Baer later stole Simon from Bushnell. And then you get into the specifics that Bushnell marketed and helmed the company behind Pong but Al Alcorn himself engineered, designed, and programmed it.

    Just wanted to put in my two cents. Hope it helped and didn’t annoy. :)

  5. 0
    Momgamer ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Mr. Baer rawks, and I’m glad to see he’s still at it.  He was kind enough to grant us an interview at Gamerdad a couple years ago and it was great to get his perspective on this whole thing.

  6. 0
    Anonymous says:

    This from a nation in the EU, where lately all we’ve been seeing is how badly video games and their companies get mistreated.  Thank you, Netherlands, for not being stupid.

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