Atari never had much luck with hand held computer games (i.e., Atari Lynx). Their first hand-held game was called Touch Me. Like Lynx, it pretty much bombed in the market place. Like Lynx, many thought “great idea” and then took Atari’s general idea and made it a success. Okay so that said, most people today would look at Touch Me and say “Oh that’s a rip off of Simon”. Simon, of course, was that addictive UFO-shaped game you plunked on your den’s shag carpet and squatted around with your friends, back when you were at that age when you could be female and squat in polite company. The object of Simon, and Touch Me, was to memorize a pattern of lights and press the appropriate buttons to replicate the given light pattern.

What’s important to note, here, Touch Me was released before Milton Bradley's Simon. Touch Me, however, was small enough to be held in your hand. You didn’t have to squat. And maybe that was what made it just a bit less fun, hence a failure.

Now an astute historian of video and electronic games would note that the Touch Me hand held was released 1978 and Simon was released in 1977. So how can you, you Ann, you sweet honest Ann, be screaming ATARI WAS RIPPED OFF AGAIN! Ann *slap* the numbers don’t lie.

They don’t. But the thing is Atari originally released Touch Me as a coin op video game in 1974. Ah ha! It came hot on the heals of Atari’s Pong. But I mean when you could be playing an exciting game of electronic ping pong, pushing buttons to match increasingly complex patterns just wasn’t considered fun. And since most of these games were put in bars and bus stations, well, they weren’t exactly the best venue for memory games.

However, Milton Bradley proved that the Touch Me concept, if marketed to kids who liked to squat, could be an amazing success. Oh yeah Milton Bradley also added some fat sounds. The arcade Touch Me had no sound. The following year, Atari came out with a hand held version, keeping the name Touch Me. They added sound too.

The Touch Me hand held nearly didn’t make it to store shelves in time for the 1978 Christmas rush. The game was being manufactured in Asia but they were having problems with the battery housing. An Atari engineer flew out to Asia to work the problem. Apparently he didn’t like it out there and kept threatening to fly home before the problem was solved. To keep him from flying the coop, someone stole his passport and made him think he mislaid it until he fixed the problem.

A variant of Touch Me was released in 1978 on a 2600 cart called Brain Games.