Testing Our Memory In The 80s With The Simon Game

Children in the 1980s had creative ways to keep entertained. It was the era when electronic toys were rising to fame. One of the famous toymakers during that time was Milton Bradley (now Hasbro). A favorite gift idea for kids then was the “Simon Game”. It was a commercial success that still exists today. Millennials might ask this question: What was and why was the “Simon Game” (memory game by Hasbro) so popular during the 1980s? Read on to find out the answer.


What was the “Simon Game”?

This wonderful toy’s innovative inventors were Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison in 1978. The original “Simon Game” has a circular shape structure and has four buttons in different colors. The shades are green, yellow, blue, and red. Each of them had distinct notes. It was a game that caught on like wildfire after it’s initial release, and it continued to be a mainstay really throughout the 80s and into the 90s as well.

simon game original
Simon Was Originally Released In 1978

To start the game, the player must press the green button. Then the toy will begin to play musical notes. The player needs to recall the note sequence. Then they should push the correct buttons in the exact order. As long as the repetition is a success, the player will advance to a higher level. Once there is a wrong answer, the green light will beep. That beep is the signal that the game is over and the player can restart again to challenge another round.

What was the inspiration for the “Simon Game”?

This invention’s inspiration was an Atari Arcade game called “Touch Me”. Baer and Morrison saw it in a trade show and immediately thought there was something to it. “Touch Me” had four different notes, and the player had to repeat them to win. However the weakness of the arcade game was the sound it created was unpleasant. It made Baer take careful consideration in choosing the long notes that would eventually become synonymous with the “Simon Game”.

Atari’s “Touch Me” Arcade Game

Another inspiration was the favorite novelty game “Simon Says”. In this game, the players need to follow what “Simon Says”. So like in the “Simon Game” the challengers must follow the notes it plays. Failing to do so means losing the game. Simon Says was/is a popular kids game played by millions of children across the world, thus the creators of the “Simon Game” knew that there was a good potential for the success of their product.

Why was the “Simon Game” popular in the 1980s?

The Milton Bradley company, now called Hasbro invested a lot in promoting the “Simon Game”. The organized product release was done and prepared grandly. A midnight release party was held in New York City dedicated to it. The location was no less than Studio 54, an elite disco.

The “Simon Game” had a celebrity-like fanfare. The hype paid off, and the public loved this game. The peak of its sales was during the 1980s. Even today it is still being distributed and sold both in stores and online platforms, though of course it’s popularity has declined in favor of more advanced computer and video games.

Another secret of its popularity is the challenge it gives to its players. It is a memory game that requires good listening and vision. Compared to regular board games, where winning is dependent on chance, this game’s victory is by the player’s skill and effort. The great thing about this game is that people of all ages can play it. That is why family and friends can gather in the living together and see how well each person will do. It is also portable and easy to bring on family trips or school camps.

The “Simon Game” was nothing short of legendary, and till this day kids who grew up during the 1980s will at least have seen if not played this iconic toy themselves. It remains one of the nostalgic toys of the era, and if you were lucky enough to own one you know it provided hours of educational fun.

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