I’m not sure why the circular beeping toy was called Simon. As far as I know, it is the only toy to be given a human name. I liked the fact that he was human. I felt more connected to my Simon than my other toys. Me and my Simon got on really well. So well, in fact, that we were on better-than-first-name terms. I called him Si. It wasn’t until quite recently that I realised Si was actually part Cyberman.
Simon was an uncecessarily big toy. I completely open my Simon one time, screws and everything, to replace one of the lights after my Dad got me a replacement bulb from work. There was a small circuit board directly beneath the control switches on the face, a few wires which linked it to the bulbs, but otherwise it was a big empty space.
The way you played with Simon was to watch the pattern of “boops” and “beeps” and you copied what you had just seen. The patterns got longer the longer the game went on, meaning you had to memorise quite long sequences. Each light had a different tone associated with it, making it the perfect toy for kids who were blind or deaf – something that 80s toy manufacturers had not considered before.
It would start with one light and go:
You would have to press the same colour light in reply:
The game would carry on, adding one more light to the end of the sequence:
“Boop Baaa Boop”
“Boop Baaa Boop”
The longest chain of boops, baaas and dees Simon could create was 32, because Simon had very little memory. When I built PCs in the mid 90s, memory cards were about £1 for 1 meg. Nowadays memory costs pence, but the opposite was true in the 70s and 80s. One of the most expensive components in Simon was probably the memory. Enabling Simon to produce and remember more than a sequence of 32 would probably have doubled its price.
It was big, it had lights, it made noise… What else could an 80s kid want?