Merlin electronic game

In the UK sold through Palitoy, in most other countries through Clipper.

Merlin -the Electronic Wizard- was a handheld electronic game first made in 1978 by Parker Bros. It is notable as one of the earliest and most popular handheld games, with sales exceeding 5 million units during its initial run, as well as one of the most long-lived, remaining popular throughout the 1980s.

Merlin was created by Bob Doyle, a Harvard PhD. and inventor who had previously worked with NASA. Merlin took the form of a rectangular device about eight inches long and three inches wide. The play area of the game consisted of a matrix of eleven buttons; each button contained a red LED. The array was encased in a red plastic housing, bearing a slight resemblance to an overgrown touch-tone telephone. Four game-selection and control buttons were also placed at the bottom of the unit; a speaker took up the top section. Supporting electronics (including a simple microprocessor) were contained within the shell of the game. Parker Brothers later released Master Merlin with more games, and the rarer Split Second, where all games involve time with a more advanced display, sporting line segments around the dots. Both of these share the same general case shape, and came out a few years after Merlin.

Merlin's simple array of buttons and lights supported play of six different games, some of which could be played against the computer or against another person. Here is the list of games that could be selected:

The Music Machine game functioned as a musical instrument; in this mode each key was assigned a musical note, and sequences of notes could be recorded and played back. This made Merlin one of the earliest sequencers as well as an early consumer-level electronic synthesizer.

In 1978 Merlin (painted blue) and Milton Bradley's Simon shared the cover of the Christmas issue of Newsweek.

The Toy Manufacturers of America named Merlin the best selling Toy and Game Item (SKU) in America in 1980 (2.2 million sold).


Updated: 28 September 2021

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Merlin Game value and price guide

What's your Merlin Game worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
parker brothers 1978 merlin electronic wizard arcade Parker Brothers 1978 Merlin Electronic Wizard Arcade 09/2021 £74.97
1978 merlin electronic wizard game by parker brothers 1978 Merlin Electronic Wizard Game By Parker Brothers 10/2021 £74.23
parker brothers 1978 merlin electronic wizard arcade Parker Brothers 1978 Merlin Electronic Wizard Arcade 10/2021 £67.48
palitoy merlin electronic handheld game 1979 parker Palitoy Merlin Electronic Handheld Game 1979 Parker 09/2021 £58.00
1978 merlin electronic wizard game by parker brothers 9 1978 Merlin Electronic Wizard Game By Parker Brothers 9 11/2021 £41.24
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices12/2021£-.--

Merlin Game forum

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Comments (6)
Carmaine - May 21, 2021
I have a Merlin - New in original box and wrapped in original plastic film. All in perfect condition. I bought it new, and now I want to sell it. Any idea what it might be worth? Thank you
William - December 12, 2020
You need to open it up, make sure the wires are good. If they are good, make sure the battery contacts are clean and free of corrosion. this worked for mine. its ok if the copper it showing just make sure the green gunk is gone. then it should work fine, have fun.
Thanks for the info :-) !
James - December 27, 2018
How can I get a Merlin fixed? It will not turn on.
Not sure if you can do this yourself, but you could open it up and see if there are broken wires. Also start with cleaning the battery compartment. Or maybe you can find another one for cheap.
Liz - October 31, 2016
I have a merlin game that needs to be restored where can this be done
That won't be easy... Maybe it's best to buy another one on eBay and use the parts?
Bill - February 14, 2013
I recently found a parker I recenly found a game that my son received as a gift. It is called Merlin. I don't know where the instructions are, but I would like to know how to play it. Do you have any instructions that I could receive to help me play this game?
David - June 23, 2011
i have a merlin electronic game for sale, could you tell me how much i could sell this for. thank you.
Depends on state (boxed, still working, scratches, etc.) and demand. Probably between 10 and 40 USD.