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Sarnoff Innovation Series: Ralph Baer’s Lab and the Birth of Video Games by Arthur Molella

Sarnoff Innovation Series: Ralph Baer’s Lab and the Birth of Video Games by Arthur Molella



When: Wednesday, November 4th 2015, 4-5PM

Where: 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing NJ 08628

Art Venue: Sarnoff Collection Museum

Note: This event is Free & Open to the Public

The College of New Jersey is pleased to present the continuation of the Sarnoff Innovation Series with a special lecture on Wednesday, November 4, at 4:00PM by Dr. Arthur Molella, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

Ralph Baer is often called the father of home video games, and he helped launch a billion-dollar industry far bigger than Hollywood.  His basement workshop shines a light on his creative processes and reveals the multifarious roots of video games in the entertainment and toy industries, electrical engineering, TV technology, economics, and the military-industrial complex.  As Dr. Molella has commented: “Looking to the future, the full implications of Baer’s revolutionary innovations are only beginning to emerge in myriad interactive technologies, including smart TVs and smart phones, simulators, drones, human-machine interfaces in aviation and space, as well as other military and commercial applications.”

Arthur Molella received his Ph.D. in the History of Science from Cornell University. He has published and lectured internationally on the relationships among science, technology, and culture. His publications include Invented Edens: Techno-Cities of the 20th Century (with Robert Kargon, MIT, 2008); Places of Invention (ed. with Anna Karvellas, Smithsonian, 2015,);  and World’s Fairs on the Eve of War: Science, Technology, and Modernity, 1937-1942 (with Robert Kargon, et al., Pittsburgh, forthcoming 2015). He currently serves on the boards of the National Academy of Inventors and the MIT Museum.

Following Dr. Baer’s lecture on November 4, the College will open a special exhibition Computer Fun for the Whole Family: Video Games and The Sarnoff Collection.  In the late 1960s, RCA recognized the entertainment potential of computers and was among the first firms to produce electronic gaming systems aimed at the general public. Computer Fun for the Whole Family uses artifacts from the Sarnoff Collection to illustrate how early hobbyist computers eventually gave way to cartridge-based video games. It also shows how engineers at RCA’s Princeton research center laid the foundation for modern interactive games and consumer virtual reality systems like the Oculus Rift.

Visitors to Computer Fun for the Whole Family will have the chance to examine vintage RCA computer systems before trying out a few classic video games for themselves.  Video game enthusiasts can  also visit the new exhibition in TCN’s Art Gallery’s, A Palette of Pixels: The Evolving Art of Video Games, which features concept art, sketches, and sculptures from more than 30 years of video games, as well as interactive game stations.

Dr. Molella’s lecture will be held in Roscoe West Hall, Room 201. The exhibition opening and reception will follow at 5:00PM on the second floor of Roscoe West Hall. Parking will be available in lots 17 and 18. For more information and a campus map, please visit or call 609-771-2633.

Image: Promotional image for RCA’s COSMAC VIP home computer and video game system, 1977