Simon and the Google Chrome Logo: Separated at Birth?

Has anyone else noticed the resemblance between Google’s logo for its new Web browser, Chrome, and the electronic game Simon, launched by Milton Bradley in 1978? Scroll down for a side-by-side comparison.

Simon and its cousin Merlin were two of my favorite toys as a kid. Knowing how Googlers also love their games, I’m betting that there’s a genetic connection here. Especially since 2008 marks Simon’s 30th anniversary, and Google also seems to be fond of commemorating obscure anniversaries and dates.

Look closely: the Chrome logo uses the same four colors as Simon—green, yellow, red, and sky blue. The logo’s colored panels are made to look like plastic buttons, right down to the recessed black base underneath. They’re even placed in the same order, moving counter-clockwise from upper right. The only real difference between the logo and the game is that in the Chrome logo, the blue button has been moved into the center.

Simon and the Google Chrome Logo

Of course, there’s no cosmic significance to the resemblance. It’s just an interesting addition to the long, distinguished history of the Web browser logo as a genre. In its roundness, the Chrome logo sticks to the age-old formula, which may have started with the spinning globe in the logo for NCSA Mosaic (which, as many digital natives may be unaware, was the grandfather of all Web browsers). That formula continued with the Netscape Navigator badge, the Internet Explorer logo, and the snazzy Firefox logo (see below).

For a long time—especially before the broadband era—the main purpose of the browser logo seemed to be to pulsate, spin, and flash, either to entertain users or to reassure them that something was still happening behind the scenes while they endured the endless waits for Web pages to download. Of course, browser logos also served to brand the programs (as if you couldn’t tell them apart from their behavior).

But lately, the browser logo seems to be falling out of favor, at least as the kind of comforting (or intrusive, depending on your point of view) presence that it used to be. The Firefox logo doesn’t even appear as part of the “chrome” for Firefox 3 (that’s Web developer jargon for all of the toolbars, buttons, scrollbars, tabs, and other graphical stuff around an actual Web page). And the Google Chrome logo isn’t part of Google Chrome’s chrome—it only turns up in the marketing paraphernalia.

Firefox 2 LogoInternet Explorer 7 LogoNetscape Navigator LogoNCSA Mosaic Logo

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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20 responses to “Simon and the Google Chrome Logo: Separated at Birth?”

  1. Back at Symbolics, circa 1986, the company hired a marketing firm to design a new logo for us. After being paid what I presume was a small fortune, their idea was three overlapping shapes: a square, a circle, and a triangle. After the engineers heard about this, we had a lot of fun finding one corporate logo after another that were almost identical. Coming up with logos is about as hard as coming up with names for software products and companies: very hard to do well.

  2. I hadn’t made the connection but that is so dead on! Very interesting…

  3. SSMAN says:

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  4. ss says:

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  5. film fan says:

    there are so many advantages and features with Chrome, such as it’s speed, for example; now if only they would take care it’s flighty cookie management…

  6. muthu says:

    very good

  7. Lisa says:

    Actually, I just googled [google chrome logo simon] because the logo seemed oddly familiar and simon popped in my head – wanted to check it out myself.

  8. Scott D says:

    I’ve been thinking for many weeks that the Chrome logo resembles “Simon”. I had Simon in the 1980s and I recognized the similarities immediately. I’m glad to see many others also see it.

  9. Blah says:

    Same with Code::Blocks and AVG. Pisses me off almost every time.

  10. Baldeep says:

    Chrome is a step in the right direction. Many people say Safari is the leader, but compare it to Opera and you will have to think again.

  11. Brian says:

    Glad somebody other than me saw the resemblance. Simon was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the Chrome icon.

  12. bob says:

    My wife saw her first ad for google chrome today, believe it or not? First thing she said was “is that Simon”

  13. Adrian Britton says:

    Hate to break it to you, but the Milton Bradley ‘Simon’ game (I’m looking at a 1978 Made in the USA version right now) doesn’t look like Chrome at all. HOWEVER, it IS the same pattern and color scheme as Microsoft Windows’ logo, albeit all inverted and jazzified.

    • Anonymous says:

      Adrian Britton, I actually had the game myself and I can tell it’s like Simon’s brother.
      To make it clearer, even the 3D effect is present.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Totally agree it’s a SIMON game copy.
    To hit a familiar synapse in our brain.

    Now they re-designed it into the three sixes.
    How more obvious can it be?
    It makes one wonder…