|Inventor||Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison|
|Slogan||Simon's a computer, Simon has a brain, you either do what Simon says or else go down the drain|
Simon is an electronic game of memory skill invented by Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison, with software programming by Lenny Cope, and manufactured and distributed by Milton Bradley. Much of the assembly language was written by Dr. Charles Kapps, who taught computer science at Temple University, who also wrote one of the first books on the theory of computer programming. Simon was launched in 1978 at Studio 54 in New York City and was an immediate success, becoming a pop culture symbol of the 1970s and 1980s.
Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison  were first introduced to Atari’s game Touch Me at the Music Operators of America (MOA) trade show in 1976. Baer said of the product, “Nice gameplay. Terrible execution. Visually boring. Miserable, rasping sounds.” The original prototype, built by Baer, included the Texas Instruments TMS 1000 microprocessor chip, which was low cost and used by many games of the 1970s. Lenny Cope, who was one of Ralph H. Baer’s partners, worked on the programming code for the core of the game, titled Follow Me at the time. Baer developed the tones of the game, inspired by the notes of a bugle. It was when they pitched the demo, an 8-inch-by-8-inch console, to the Milton Bradley Company that the name of the game was changed to Simon.
The device has four colored buttons, each producing a particular tone when it is pressed or activated by the device. A round in the game consists of the device lighting up one or more buttons in a random order, after which the player must reproduce that order by pressing the buttons. As the game progresses, the number of buttons to be pressed increases. The US patent for this game, Pat No. 4,207,087 was obtained in 1980 by patent counsel for Marvin Glass and Associates, Robert J. Schneider, a managing partner with the firm of Mason, Kolehmainen, Rathburn and Wyss. Mr. Schneider also procured US Design Pat. No 253,786 for the game housing which was invented by Douglas Montague, a designer at Marvin Glass and Associates.
Simon is named for the simple children's game of Simon Says, but the gameplay is based on Atari's unpopular Touch Me arcade game from 1974. Simon differs from Touch Me in that the Touch Me buttons were all the same color (black) and the sounds it produced were harsh and grating.
Simon's tones, on the other hand, were designed to always be harmonic, no matter what order they were played in, and consisted of an A major triad in second inversion which resembles a Trumpet fanfare:
- E-note (blue, lower right);
- C♯-note (yellow, lower left);
- A-note (red, upper right).
- E-note (green, upper left, an octave lower than blue);
Simon was later re-released by Milton Bradley – now owned by Hasbro – in its original circular form, though with a translucent case rather than plain black. It was also sold as a two-sided Simon Squared version, with the reverse side having eight buttons for head-to-head play, and as a keychain (officially licensed by Fun4All) with simplified gameplay (only having Game 1, Difficulty 4 available). Other variations of the original game, no longer produced, include Pocket Simon and the eight-button Super Simon, both from 1980. Finally, Nelsonic released an official wristwatch version of Simon.
Later versions of the game being sold include a pocket version of the original game in a smaller, yellow, oval-shaped case; Simon Trickster, which plays the original game as well as variations where the colors shift around from button to button (Simon Bounce), where the buttons have no colors at all (Simon Surprise), or where the player must repeat the sequence backwards (Simon Rewind); and a pocket version of Simon Trickster.
As a popular game, Simon inspired many imitators and knockoffs. Most notably, Atari released a handheld version of Touch Me in 1978, with multicolored buttons and pleasant musical tones. Despite being named for their older arcade game, the handheld Touch Me contained Simon's three game variations and four difficulty levels, albeit with limits of 8, 16, 32, and 99 instead of 8, 14, 20 and 31. Even its button layout mirrored Simon's, with blue in the upper-left, yellow in the upper-right, red in the lower-left, and green in the lower-right, the same layout as Simon turned upside-down. Its only unique features were a LED score display, similar to the one its arcade counterpart had, and its small size, similar to a pocket calculator.
Other clones include:
- A Simon clone called Monkey See, Monkey Do which featured a similar casing as that of Simon, except that the buttons were oval-shaped.
- Tiger Electronics' Copy Cat in 1979, re-released with a transparent case in 1988
- Also released as Copy Cat Jr. in 1981
- Copy Cat was re-packaged and released by Sears as Follow Me
- Copy Cat Jr. was similarly released by both Tandy Computers and Radio Shack as Pocket Repeat
- Castle Toy's Einstein in 1979
- Space Echo by an unknown company.
- Makezine has a DIY version called Gamekit that requires soldering.
- The "Game A" mode of the second game in the Game & Watch handheld series, Flagman (Silver, 5th Jun 1980). "Game B" is the same, but doesn't play in a sequence, while the player has a limited time to press the corresponding number lit up.
- A Star Wars version featuring R2D2 sounds by Tiger Electronics, 1997.
- Vtech's Wizard
- A side quest in both the SNES and Game Boy Advance versions of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! involves freeing creatures called "Banana Birds" using this method, pressing the corresponding buttons on each system's controller.
The same gameplay also appears on multi-game handhelds such as:
- Mego Corporation's Fabulous Fred (Game 3, The Memory Game)
- Parker Brothers' Merlin (Game 3, Echo).
- Atari also included a nine-button version of Touch Me as game variations 1-4 (out of 19) on the 1978 Brain Games cartridge for the Atari 2600.
- It also appears in season 3 episode 7 of the TV series Cougar Town, as an old 80' game that young people are completely unaware of. (in this case Laurie)
- A fan made homebrew video game version of Simon was unofficially made available for modded Wiis in 2008.
Some versions of the game have tones that play as long as you push the button down. Others have a constant time of the sound. Other versions feature audio themes: animals (cat/dog/pig/cow), xylophone, football, galaxy (space sounds), some of which (animals, football) make the game easier to play. Yet others can have sound on/off setting, making the game harder by relying just on visual cues.
In popular culture
- In the 2009 film Accidents Happen, Doug Post is playing Simon while lying in bed in his room, just before Billy Conway enters and talks him into sneaking out to visit Billy's brother Gene at the care center.
- Simon appeared on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia in the episode "A Very Sunny Christmas", during which Mac finds the game in his closet and Charlie finds the game extremely difficult.
- Simon appeared on an episode of Little Miss Gamer as her portable gaming system. It caused her to meet Tom Green and Blackwolf the Dragon Master.
- Simon appears in American Dad episode The One That Got Away with the family becoming addicted to the game, playing it for days without moving.
- Simon appears in the film CWACOM (2009). Flint, the main character, has to click the correct sequence on a Simon to get into his lab.
- Simon appears in the Family Guy episode "Perfect Castaway", when Stewie plays the game and loses.
- In a skit on Robot Chicken, Dick Cheney's heart is replaced with a Simon, in a parody of Iron Man.
- In an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, a Simon game (labeled as "Simon Says") is used to gain entry to the laboratory.
- There is a Simon game signed by Baer on permanent display at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana.
- In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, a pair of quests in Blade's Edge Mountains require the participants to play a lifesize version of the game through six and eight sequences, respectively.
- Simon appears in Channel 4's list of 100 Top Toys at number 72.
- In the 1987 Run DMC music video "Christmas in Hollis" Santa Claus is using a converted Simon to determine who is naughty and who is nice.
- The album cover of Queen's Hot Space was influenced by the Simon colors.
- In an episode of Cougar Town, Laurie Keller is seen playing Simon and finds it extremely difficult.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
- Edwards, Owen (September 1, 2006). "Simonized: In 1978 a new electronic toy ushered in the era of computer games". Smithsonian Magazine. Archived from the original on November 11, 2006. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
- "Simon: 'The Electronic Game that Started it All' Turns 25" (Press release). Hasbro. February 10, 2003. Archived from the original on 2006-10-18. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
- Design patent for the case housing
- Basic Fun The current maker of Simon