Simon’s a computer, Simon has a brain, you either do what Simon says or else go down the drain.
Happy 35th anniversary, Simon! 2013 marks that milestone for the memory game. Ah, memory games. I remember them. Anyone that grew up with them should have a place in their heart for them too. They were a mainstay of 1970s gaming and computing. I played Simon relentlessly, blissfully oblivious to its storied history.
Any discussion of Simon has to begin with its predecessor, “Touch Me” by Atari. Touch Me was released as an upright cabinet video game in 1974 and later as a handheld game. Steve Jobs (yes, that Steve Jobs) put the finishing touches on the cabinet version.
Below, an Atari Innovative Leisure sales card extolling the virtues, and moneymaking possibilities, of the Touch Me. 8-1/2 by 11”. Fantastic artwork on the front of the card, by the way. Full size images and a large selection of others are available at Arcade-Museum.com.
TOUCH ME – A MIND BOGGLER!
You can’t beat it… “Touch Me”™ is the first computer game that challenges the mind as well as eye-to-hand coordination skills. Play-time is limited only by players’ ability to remember – and repeat correctly – the ever changing sound patterns. The computer allows three mistakes, after which game play is ended. Nobody can give up after one (quarter) try…skill improves with practice, and repeat practice is psychologically a “must” for every game challenges you to do better! Repeat challenge go on and on – as does revenue to you – and nobody can “beat” or master the game.
“Beep” or “Bleep”? Touch Me challenges the player to remember the sequence of sight and sound, and correctly repeat the pattern. The drop of the quarter in the top mounted acceptor activates the computer to present a single tone sound. When the sound occurs, the corresponding button lights up to give a visual clue. Then the game pauses long enough for the player to ‘confirm’ the sound to the computer by pressing the same button that lit.. Oops! Wrong button? ERROR number one…and a lighted window tells the player he’s goofed. Then another chance…the sound and lighted button are repeated by the computer. Another pause…RIGHT! You’ve hit the right button(s) in the right sequence, and the game goes on to another sound sequence. Every correct player response adds an additional sound/note to the sequence. “Beep – beep – bloop – beep – bloop”.. Did you correctly repeat those sounds when the buttons lit? Sorry, only three errors per game. You’ll have to insert another 25¢ and try again!
The score – and the quarters – add up A digital score window shows the total number of different sound sequences a player correctly repeats…just like the game counter inside the game tallies up the many, many quarters Touch Me attracts. Nobody can play it just once, because Touch Me challenges your memory; you’ve GOT to play it again because you must be able to do better than the first time!
Tough and Reliable – an Atari Tradition Like all Atari computer games, Touch Me has had the special Dura-Stress Computer process, the latest in solid-state technology, for long life and maintenance free operation. Standard one-year warranty on the computer board. Durable cabinet construction withstands even the roughest customer environments. Hi impact plastic parts are break-resistant and easily cleaned. Tough cabinet construction results in no-worry operation in any location.
Dimensions: Width: 25”/63.5cm. Height: 42”/107cm. Depth: 23”/58.4cm. Weight (packed for shipment) 120 lbs./54.5 kilos.
Electrical requirements: 110 volts single-phase A.C. Current drain approximately 2 amps/hour.
Order Information Call or write Atari, Inc., 14600 Winchester Boulevard, Los Gatos, California 95030 (408) 374-2440. Telex 357-488.
Ralph Baer turned his interest toward the upright version of Touch Me when he and Howard Morrison saw it for the first time at the Music Operators of America (MOA) trade show in 1976. In the infancy of the coin operated arcade game market, Touch Me was presented at this show, alongside jukeboxes and pinball machines. In Touch Me, which was based on Simon Says, four black flashing knobs in a line were presented with what Baer called “raucous accompanying sounds.” Baer saw unrealized opportunity with Touch Me.
Simon was programmed by Lenny Cope, who named his work “Follow Me.” Simon employed the Texas Instruments MP3300NLL microcontroller, a custom variation of the TMS1000 chip, with Simon’s software already on board. The TMS1000 line was the low cost chip that made Simon, and a host of other microelectronic games and calculators (including the Speak & Spell, for example), possible in the 1970s. The chip integrated a 0.4 MHz 4-bit CPU and typically included 32 or 64 bytes of RAM and 1-4 KB of storage ROM. Baer and his partners reengineered Touch Me into the portable and more pleasant Simon. Simon’s game play was essentially the same as Touch Me. Simon featured colored buttons and tones designed to be harmonic no matter the order they were played, inspired by the notes of a bugle.
The notes consist of an A major triad in second inversion, says Wikipedia:
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).
Though Baer says, “our game was programmed to beep G, C, E, and G.” Perhaps a more musically inclined reader can inform us of the true nature of Simon.
The first page of the United States “Microcomputer Controlled Game” patent, number 4,207,087. The rest of the patent can be found here.
The first page of the United States “Electronic Game Housing” design patent, number 253,786. The rest of the patent can be found here.
Picture the scene. It’s May 15, 1978 at New York City nightclub extraordinaire, Studio 54. There, just after midnight, the Milton Bradley Company introduced Simon. A four-foot model of the game hung suspended over the dance floor at Studio 54 the night it was introduced.
The popularity of Simon was magnified by Steven Spielberg’s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released November 16, 1977. Coincidentally, conversation in the movie happened to occur through a sequence of musical tones.
Both Simon and Super Simon require 2 D cell batteries and one 9 volt battery. Simon can be run from an electrical outlet with the use of an adapter. Recommended models are the Texas Instruments AC 9180, Audiovox Model AC-4, and Dynamics Model S-690. The 2 D cell batteries are still required, even when using an adapter.
Simon box top. Image source: Odin Art Collectables. Item sold.
Simon instructions/game play
SIMON 1978 Milton Bradley
Think fast... SIMON says, "Chase my flashing lights and sounds"!
The challenge is to repeat the ever increasing random signals that SIMON generates.
There are three game variations you can play, and you can even set the level of difficulty you want.In any case, you are sure to enjoy hours of challenging fun with SIMON.
SIMON is a computer-controlled game that consists of a base unit with 4 color lenses and a control panel.
See Fig. 1 for identification of all parts and the following description of their functions.
ON/OFF SWITCH - Slides to "ON" or "OFF" position operating power.
GAME SELECTOR SWITCH - Slides to position for GAME 1, GAME 2, or GAME 3.
SKILL LEVEL SWITCH - Slide to position for a game of 8 sequences (skill level 1), 14 sequences (skill level 2), 20 sequences (skill level 3), or 31 sequences (skill level 4).
START BUTTON - When depressed will begin any game.
LONGEST BUTTON - When depressed, at the end of the game, will play back the longest sequence played (from the time power
was turned on). NOTE: When SIMON is turned off, the longest sequence is erased.
LAST BUTTON - When depressed, at the end of a game, will play back the last sequence in the game just played.
COLOR LENSES (4) - When SIMON activates them or when players depress them, they light up and give 4 distinct tones.
NOTE: DO NOT PUNCH OR JAB LENSES.
BATTERIES-One 9-volt transistor battery and two "D" cell batteries (not included) are needed. ALKALINE BATTERIES ARE RECOMMENDED FOR LONGER LIFE AND BEST PERFORMANCE.
1. Carefully turn SIMON upside down (on a piece of cloth to protect lenses).
NOTE: There is a compartment for two "D" cell batteries, and one for the 9-volt battery.
2. Remove compartment covers by placing the edge of a coin into the groove at the top of the compartment and gently prying off.
(See Fig. 2)
3. Attach the 9-volt transistor battery to the battery clip inside its compartment.
NOTE: If the connection is not a tight "snap-on" fit, lightly pinch the spring-slotted terminal of the battery clip with a pair of pliers. Place the battery flat inside the compartment and press cover into place.
4. Place the two "D" cell batteries into their compartment as illustrated in the diagram beneath the compartment, and press cover into place.
REPLACEMENT OF BATTERIES
If lights dim, replace the "D" cell batteries.
If lights flash erratically and sounds become garbled, replace the 9-volt transistor battery.
Simon can be run from an electrical outlet with the use of an adapter. Recommended models are: Texas Instruments AC 9180, Audiovox Model AC-4 and Dynamics Model S-690.
Adapters are available at most electronic product stores.
Adapter is plugged into the jack on the side of your SIMON unit. (See Fig. 3)
Two "D" cell batteries are still required, even when using an adapter.
Turn Simon off when not in use.
GAME I -"SIMON SAYS" (for 1 or more players)
To repeat correctly a longer and longer sequence of signals.
FOR ONE PLAYER:
1. Slide red ON/OFF switch to "ON".
2. Slide blue GAME SELECTOR switch to "I".
3. Slide blue SKILL LEVEL switch to 1, 2, 3 or 4.
4. Press red START button; SIMON will give the first signal.
5. Repeat the signal by pressing the same lens.
6. SIMON will duplicate the first signal and will add one.
7. Repeat these two signals by pressing the same lenses.
8. SIMON will duplicate these first two signals and add one.
9. Continue in this manner as long as you can repeat each sequence
of signals correctly.
10. Notice that after the 5th, 9th and 13th signals in a sequence, SIMON automatically increases the tempo.
11. If you fail to repeat a sequence exactly or if you take more than 5 seconds to repeat a signal, SIMON responds with a "RAZZ" sound; you have lost, and this sequence of signals is over.
Repeat the number of sequences for skill levels 1, 2, or 3 and SIMON will salute you with six short signals from the last lens you played. For the tough skill level 4, repeat the 31 signal sequence and SIMON blows its mind, loses its memory and gives itself the
RAZZ sound. Congratulations, you have beaten SIMON!
FOR TWO OR MORE PLAYERS:
Players may team up against SIMON or compete with each other.
1. Decide who goes first.
2. Play proceeds as described above except players take turns repeating SIMON'S signals.
GAME II - "PLAYER ADDS" (for 1 or more players)
To create a longer and longer sequence of signals.
FOR ONE PLAYER:
1. Slide red ON/OFF switch to "ON. "
2. Slide blue GAME SELECTOR switch to "2. "
3. Slide blue SKILL LEVEL switch to "4. "
4. Press red START button; SIMON will give the first signal.
5. Repeat the signal and add one more.
6. Repeat the first two signals and add one more.
7. Continue repeating the signals and increasing the sequence by one as long as you can do so correctly.
8. If you make an error or take more than 5 seconds to play a signal, you will hear the "RAZZ" sound and the sequence is ended.
9. Press the LAST button, and count the number of signals as it plays back the last sequence; this is your score.
10. Begin a new sequence by following steps 4 through 8 above. However, at the end of the sequence (after the "RAZZ" sound), press the LONGEST button and count the number of signals as it plays back the longest sequence (from the time SIMON was turned on for this game). Note: If SIMON is turned off, the longest sequence is erased.
11. Play as many sequences as you like and try to increase the number of signals each time.
FOR TWO OR MORE PLAYERS:
1. Follow steps 1 through 4 above.
2. Player #1 repeats the signal and adds one more.
3. Player #2 repeats the first two signals and adds one more.
4. Play continues (clockwise) as long as players can repeat each sequence and add one signal.
5. Any player who makes an error, or takes more than 5 seconds to repeat a signal is given the "RAZZ" sound and eliminated from the game. Press red START button to begin a new sequence with remaining players.
Remember, SIMON will automatically increase the tempo at certain intervals.
The last remaining player, who has successfully repeated SIMON'S sequence and increased it by one, is the winner.
GAME III - "CHOOSE YOUR COLOR" (for 2, 3 or 4 players)
To repeat correctly, the longest sequence of signals.
FOR 4 PLAYERS
1. Slide red ON/OFF switch to "ON".
2. Slide blue GAME SELECTOR switch to "3".
3. Slide blue SKILL LEVEL switch to "4".
4. Each player chooses one color lens and will use only that lens during the game.
5. Press red START button; SIMON will give the first signal.
6. The player operating that lens repeats the signal.
7. Play continues as described in GAME I except that each of you pushes only your lens in proper sequence.
8. If you push your lens out of sequence, or if you take more than 5 seconds to repeat a signal, SIMON responds with a "RAZZ" sound and your color lens is eliminated from the game.
9. SIMON automatically begins a new game with only the remaining colors.
The last player to be eliminated is the winner, and SIMON will acknowledge the win by six short signals from that players color lens.
FOR 3 PLAYERS
1. Follow steps 1-3 for 4 players.
2. Press the START button and wait. (SIMON will give the first signal; when it's not repeated, that lens will be eliminated and a new game will begin with the remaining 3 lenses.)
3. Each player quickly chooses one color lens (of the remaining three) and will use only that lens during the game.
4. SIMON will give the first signal, and the player operating that lens repeats it.
5. Play continues exactly as described for 4 players.
FOR 2 PLAYERS
1. Play proceeds as described for 4 players except each player operates two lenses. (When one of your lenses is eliminated, continue playing the remaining lens.)
TO REPLACE BULBS
SIMON comes equipped with a spare bulb stored inside the unit. Use only type 14A, 2.5-volt screw base bulbs.
1. Slide ON/OFF Switch to "OFF".
2. Remove the ON/OFF, SKILL LEVEL and GAME SELECTOR switch covers by pulling them up and away from control panel. (See Fig. 4).
3. Carefully turn SIMON upside down (on a piece of cloth to protect lenses) and remove the 4 screws.
4. Lift the base off the lens panel and turn upright, exposing bulbs.
NOTE: Do not turn lens panel over or the push button caps will fall off.
5. Replace the burned out bulb.
NOTE: Components other than bulbs and bulb sockets should not be handled while replacing bulbs.
6. Place the base over the lens panel (making sure that the switches in the base line up with the slots in the lens panel) and replace the four screws.
7. Turn SIMON upright and replace the ON/OFF, SKILL LEVEL and GAME SELECTOR switch covers.
Super Simon (1980)
The first page of the United States “Microcomputer Controlled Game” patent, number 4,359,220. The rest of the patent can be found here.
Numerous versions of Simon have been released in the years since, by Milton Bradley and later Hasbro. A notable version of Simon not released by either of these companies is the Touch Me handheld game from Atari, about the size of a pocket calculator. Though it shares the name of its upright predecessor, the handheld Touch Me shares many features with Simon: blue, yellow, red, and green play areas and kinder, gentler tones. But even though the colored play areas mirror Simon, they are represented by red LEDs. One of the only real differences is a digital display for scoring. The Atari Touch Me handheld requires one 9V battery or an AC adaptor.
It’s really the only name that’s synonymous with the fun and excitement of electronic amusement.
After leading the way in arcade and home video games since the very beginning, we’re ready to do great things in hand-held games.
With “Touch Me,”™ for example. A new, pocket-size version of an Atari game that’s made millions in arcades since 1972.
“Touch Me” is a brain-teasing, computerized test of memory and coordination that captivates players from 7 to 70. The variety and excitement are built in, with three different games for 1-4 players, four levels of skill, plus color and sound.
Now there’s no need to take chances with manufacturers who are just getting into electronic toys. Because with Atari, you get the leading name in the field. Built-in consumer acceptance. Quality and reliability to minimize problems with returns. National advertising support. Plus the great, proven games that only Atari can deliver.
Come to the Knickerbocker showroom at the Toy Fair and see for yourself: when it comes to electronics in toys, Atari has the Golden Touch.
Atari Touch Me (1978)
If you’ve read this far, indulge in a guilty pleasure and play this web version of the classic Simon.
Then take a walk down memory lane, and watch this early 1980s commercial for Simon.
Edwards, B. Simon turns 30: Videogaming’s first grudge. Retrieved December 23, 2012 from http://www.1up.com/features/simon-turns-30
Edwards, B. (2011, February 5). The secret world of embedded computers. PCMag, Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow_viewer/0,3253,l=260210&a=260208&po=7,00.asp?p=n
Edwards, O. (2006, September 1). Simonized: In 1978 a new electronic toy ushered in the era of computer games. Smithsonian Magazine, Retrieved from archive.
Simon (game). Retrieved December 23, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_(game).