Mint to make coin honoring N.H. video game pioneer

  • A commemorative coin celebrating Ralph Baer Burwell and Burwell Photography—U.S. Mint

  • A commemorative coin celebrating Ralph Baer Burwell and Burwell Photography—U.S. Mint

Monitor staff
Published: 4/19/2021 11:43:46 AM

New Hampshire video game pioneer Ralph Baer has racked up another honor: He’s the only individual named in the initial set of commemorative coins issued by the U.S. Mint called 2021 American Innovation dollars.

The first four of the coins, which are not currency, honor New Hampshire, Virginia, New York and North Carolina, and were released April 7 by the United States Mint.

The New Hampshire coin names Baer, who lived in Manchester and led a team that developed the first home video game, Magnavox Odyssey, while working at defense contractor Sanders Associates. Sanders is now part of BAE Systems.

The other three coins name institutions: the Erie Canal, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and the nation’s first public university, University of North Carolina.

The design depicts Baer’s first video game, a Pong-like game called “Handball,” and its overall design is symbolic of an arcade token. Baer is also the subject of a statue in Manchester’s Armory Park and a plaque at the BAE facility in Nashua.

The American Innovation dollars will be offered in 25-coin rolls and 100-coin canvas mini-bags from production at either the Denver Mint or the Philadelphia Mint. The rolls will be offered at $34.95 per roll and the 100-coin bags at $117.95.

They cannot be spent, however. In 2011, then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner issued a directive prohibiting officially adding any further dollar coins into commerce channels because of a glut of dollar coins held by the Federal Reserve.

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