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 contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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