What Iconic 1980s Toy Was Introduced At None Other Than The Iconic Studio 54 Nightclub?
When you think about Studio 54, the iconic late 1970s New York City nightclub, you probably think of all the crazy stories about cocaine binges, the world’s biggest stars dancing the night away, and a nightspot so popular it might as well have printed money by the pallet. What you most likely don’t think of is the infuriatingly difficult but enduring popular 1980s-era toy Simon.
Yet that’s exactly where the world first saw Simon when Milton Bradley unveiled the disc-shaped toy in 1978 at a posh midnight release party hosted at Studio 54. The toy was an instant hit both with the crowd at the release party and with thousands of children during the holidays that year. Simon went on to become one of the most enduringly popular games of the 1980s and an immediately recognizable icon of the era.
Although it would be fun to imagine that Simon was inspired by the disco lights of Studio 54, it’s based on an earlier Atari arcade game called Touch Me. Simon inventors Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison saw the Atari version at the Music Operators of America (MOA) trade show in 1976 and felt that it had nice gameplay, but was terribly executed, visually boring, and had miserable, rasping game sounds. In light of how successful Simon was, Atari released a handheld version of Touch Me shortly afterward, but they failed to catch even a fraction of the incredible popularity enjoyed by Simon.