Synopsis of Toy
There was never enough Simon to go around. This was one of those toys that could languish alone in the corner of a kid’s room, in desperate need of a battery or a good dusting-off, and its owner wouldn’t even look its way. But, and be it a rainy day or the acquisition of the necessary battery, once it finally occurred to someone to pick Simon up, forget about it—it was hours before that four-colored flying saucer-looking tease would be set back down again. Dibs were called, brawls broke out, it was frequently ripped away from players mid-match, siblings actually timed other siblings and demanded the game be handed over once the designated playing time ran up. It was a very good thing to have a Simon in your hands, in other words…it’s just that sometimes Simon didn’t stay in your hands long.
In the mid 1970’s, the leisuretime mavens from Atari issued an arcade came called Touch Me, in which four buttons randomly blinked and the player repeated the blinking sequence by pressing buttons accordingly. Arcaders weren’t especially thrilled with the game though, and so Touch Me’s creator, Ralph Baer, went back to the drawing boards. His next version had random aural tones to match the lights, and this new version of the game was sold to Milton Bradley.
But this time, it didn’t take the form of a stand-up arcade game. It was instead reincarnated as a portable electronic game—which had become increasingly popular in the late 1970’s. Simon (named after the age old kids’ game “Simon Says”) hit the stores in time for the holiday season in 1978. Atari issued a hand-held Touch Me, which again didn’t thrill too many gamers—apparently that creepy name was the culprit—but Simon’s sales were, and still are, very thrilling indeed.
Simon is about the size of a vinyl record album (if, of course, you’re old enough to remember what those look like). The earliest models needed two sizes of batteries (two AA’s and one 9-volt) and there were three skill levels to choose from. The face of the game had four large, colored panels, and when the game was turned on, the panels began to light up, each with an accompanying tone sounding off. After the panels lit up, it was the player’s job to press the buttons—in the order that the machine chose them. If the player pressed correctly, Simon added one more color in the sequence and so on and so on. If the player repeated the sequence incorrectly, an horrible buzz would announce his demise.
Milton Bradley released Super Simon in 1979, which contained dual sets of panels so that two people could play against each other. Pocket Simon was introduced the year following, a small but equally addictive version of the original. Today, the toy still sells. It requires only one type of battery, thankfully, and the noises it makes aren’t quite as oppressive as they were in the old days. Memory games are rarely this fun, and hand-held contraptions (well, lap-held frankly—Simon was too big for one hand) are never this frequently fought over.
Release History of Toy1978 - Simon
1979 - Super Simon
1980 - Pocket Simon
Sub Categories of Toysgames