As the 70s came to a close, and with video games clearly the wave of the future, many a Christmas wishlist contained a single word towards the top – Simon. From its inception, this Milton Bradley classic was a must-have game, and it remains a beloved icon from the era, a multi-colored musical light show who served as a loyal friend on a lonely day. Let’s take a look back at this addictive little toy.
The earliest incarnation was actually an arcade game released by Atari in the mid-1970s. Called Touch Me (yet featuring no nudity whatsoever), the game was interesting, but didn’t garner much enthusiasm. It had a series of four lights that blinked in random patterns and you had to hit buttons to replicate that pattern. Instead, most simply headed over to Space Invaders where you really got your quarter’s worth.
A man named Ralph H. Baer encountered the arcade game at a trade show. With a few modifications, he felt confident that he could market the concept as a self-contained, portable game. His design looked something like an oversized smoke detector, with four colored panels that illuminated in various sequences, each with their own musical note. When one of these sequences was played by Simon, it was your job to repeat the pattern back exactly. Fail to do so, and Simon would scold you with a jarring electronic screech. Luckily, you had three ways you could remember the sequence – by color, by melody, or by positioning. Simon gave the brain a workout while providing countless hours of entertainment.
Milton Bradley released Simon in 1978 to overwhelming success. Two years later, they followed up with Super Simon, which featured two rows of four buttons, allowing two players to match wits.
In the years since, Simon remains a popular game for Hasbro, who now owns the rights. Countless clones are also available, in all shapes and sizes. You can even attach Simon to your belt loop and take this addictive toy along on your travels. Meanwhile, the original version enjoys three decades of sales under its belt, with no signs of slowing.
If Simon resided in your own bedroom closet, eager to entertain with his sing-song ways, or if it was one of those games you always wanted but never received, share your Simon memories with us in our comments section, as we remember a time when we were once subserviant to the commands issued by a game called Simon.