The Touch Me arcade flyer

Atari's token entry into the handheld market during the classic era was actually a portable version of its unsuccessful coin-op game. Touch Me was a simple yet addictive game but never caught on, but its fun factor was confirmed by the popularity of Milton Bradley's Simon (an imitation of Touch Me by Ralph Baer), which proved to be a runaway best seller for the toy giant.

The original coin-op had been released in 1974 to lukewarm success. Matching patterns of blinking lights seemed to pale in comparison to a pinball game or the latest pong release. When the handheld/ tabletop home electronics market began taking off in the mid to late 1970's (thanks to companies such as Mattel), (thanks to companies such as Mattel), Milton Bradley released a Ralph Baer designed update of Touch Me called Simon during the Christmas season of 1977. Ralph had added sound to the original format to spice it up. Simon turned out to be a smash hit (it still sells in an updated format to this day), and Atari decided to follow suit by releasing the original Touch Me (still without sound) in a handheld calculator sized format during 1978.

The original Touch Me magazine add

Anyone familiar with Simon knows that the sound was the key to it's success. Besides it's own color, each individual button also had its own distinct sound, so that players with superior auditory skills also had the chance to do well in the game. In our opinion, Touch Me had the right idea, but its smallish buttons and miniature size (compared to Simon's large round shape and oversized buttons prevented it from becoming a game that could be enjoyed by more than one person at a time, something Atari had always strived for in it's early years. Consequently, Simon became the standard an Touch Me was thought to be a Simon rip-off by consumers that year.

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