The SOMA booklets
Collecting the electronic versions of SOMA manuals in one place.
The small booklet that accompagnies most SOMA games,
are a source of information about both the time and figures to build.
Back in Newsletter 1998.12.10 Parker Brothers SOMA manual.
and in Newsletter 1998.12.14 An original 1967 Danish manual.
ret dato i top højre
I tried to do digital scans of my manuals. Ok they were pretty bad - the resolution of my scanner
back in 1998 could not compare to the equipment we have today.
So this month I was reminded of this fact, when Jan de Groot
My 5 SOMA booklets.
made a series of high resolution scans from his 3 booklets.
I decided it was time to improve the manuals, and hurried to combine these into PDF documents.
At the same time I went back to my storageroom and found my own 'old' manuals. They were dusted and rescanned as images at
a 2400 x 1300 pixel resolution. These scans I just keep for the future. I then resized to an image width of 1500 pixels which fitted the ones I received from Jan de Groot.
And finally they were combined to a PDF file.
The very first SOMA
We must assume that this "oldest SOMA" is sold around 1934-35.
Because it state that "Danish Patent is pending", so it must be produced in the period between issued protection
(2 December 1933), and the granted patent (15 September 1935).
The puzzle guides are found on the outside of the box, which is folded cardboard. No printings are on the inside.
The SKJØDE Rosewood SOMA
The Modern SOMA is a Rosewood type with a nice touch and smell.
Made in a tight collaboration between Piet Hein and Theodor Skjøde.
In 1966 the SOMA was produced in Denmark by Skjøde of Skjern exclusively for Parker Brothers Inc. in Salem Massachusetts, USA.
This pretty 1966 version I received from Jan de Groot (Thank you - its a treasure)
Note the base plate of wood.
||The box reads
Played alone or competitively
Made in Denmark by Skjøde
of Skjern exclusively for
Parker Brothers, Inc.,
Salem Mass., U.S.A.
The instructional booklet was "in English" and looked like this,
The title was: "SOMA INVENTED BY PIET HEIN DENMARK
An early Parker Brothers manual
The classical SOMA is a Rosewood type.
But for many people, SOMA is a synonym for the old Parker Brothers version, made in solid plastic, Blue, Red or Gold.
These versions included a booklet with drawings of various figures for the user to duplicate.
We do not know the printing years of booklet shown here, but it appear to be an early version.
The booklet seem to be printed in Canada.
The interesting thing is that
this booklet is "Almost" identical to the "English version" of the Danish Skjøde booklet.
My Granddad's SOMA
Was a Rosewood type with a nice touch and smell. Made by Theodor Skjøde.
The puzzle resides on an Aluminium foot, with a green welvet carpet inside the foot.
Most versions of SOMA include a booklet with drawings of various objects for the user to duplicate.
This is my first SOMA manual (Initially scanned in 523x267 pixel resolution,
but now rescanned to 2100x1100 and 1500x786 pixels - the 1500x786 is the one you can get here)
Here is my own
Rosewood SOMA from 1967.
My own story with this SOMA cube started when I borrowed my Granddad's rosewood cube back in 1969.
When he died many years later, I received his puzzle, and played a little with my kids.
Finally after some time I started on my own webpage in 1998. I decided that it could be fun to
show a few pages about this simple and yet complicated puzzle.
BUT as fate would have it, when I searched the web I only found one other site with SOMA,
and I decided that this great small puzzle should not fade from the world web.
Since then, having done electronic development for 24 years, 19 of which was also as a manager of the development department.
I have now switched to teaching. I am an Asociated professor at the Aarhus TECH /Aarhus Gymnasium,
where I teach Mathematics, Technology, Electronics and Programming.
Even today, I still introduce the SOMA puzzle to my first grade students (age 15-16 years) during my Math lessons.
So as you can see - many things that are today - come as the result of history.
The very earliest of the "new" Parker Brothers manual
Until now 2021-02-19 I believed that I had all the earliest Parker Brothers Manual in my collection.
But I didn't. A mail from Dennis Rapisardi (Arizona, USA) showed me that there did exist an even earlier version.
This is also a 1969 version, BUT it has an error, that apparently was discovered quickly, and corrected in later versions.
Well, it's hard to tell with these small booklets, because they only hold the issue year - no dates.
And often the same booklet was just printet for several years without changing the print matrix.
In this case we actually did know of the existance of this booklet, but I had never before seen it.
Ps. It's not really the "First" edition, because Parker had another in 1966. So this one is the first with a new design.
In the SOMA Addict Newsletter 1999.01.18
Vol.2 No.1 page.2 Right side column (page 10 in the PDF file) we can read:
"Finally, since some SOMA Addicts may well also be error-counters, we also acknowledge that the first edition
of the Parker Brothers SOMA Booklet contained a counting-sketching error in the SAM'S SITTING DOG figure.
That error IS the only way one can identify that presumably VERY VALUABLE first-edition booklet."
But, how can we tell?
In this case the evidence came with the information that one figure was different in Dennis' manual.
||The "Sitting Dog" on page 19 had
a cube in the lowest row middle.
Bringing the cubecount up to.
28. One more than we have.!
In the following issue (V0)
the error is corrected.
Interesting is, that the older manual from
1966 did NOT have this error.
The places to look are:
This V00 page 19 has an error in the "Sitting Dog" has 28 cubes (the bottom center cube is in excess).
- - In the following V0 the page 19 "Sitting Dog" is corrected.
And also interesting is:
This V00 has the page 18 quote in 2 lines. - - In the later V2 the page 18 quote is in 1 line.
I was so lucky that Dennis sendt me this rare booklet, so that I could scan it for this web page.
So in 2021-04-14 the package arrived - it was scanned, recombined, and here it is. (The original was of course returned to Dennis)
Oh, one more thing, Dennis got his first SOMA from his father who actually worked for Parker Brothers in Salem, Massachusetts.
Now let us see this fine scan of, what I believe is the very first version of the "New" Parker Brothers Booklet.
My first Parker Brothers manual
This is my first scan of a Parker Brothers manual. I received it from USA in December 1998 and
was very excited when I realized that this manual is much larger - and better - than the Hein/Skjøde version.
As you can see, the scan resolution is rather poor, but readable never the less.
An interesting fact is that the Monument and Tomb were wrong named
in the small red/white booklet and also in the "9 squares" 2d Booklet.
And in nov 22 1971 Advertising saw SOMA on display:
Two 'almost' identical Parker Brothers booklets
The SOMA set from Parker Brothers Inc. is a historic Icon.
A poster from Parker Brothers.
These puzzles emerged from a classical game factory and being made in solid plastic,
the puzzles were affordable to many people.
(Compared to the original Skjøde Rosewood version.)
Another first was that Parker Brothers Inc. issued two versions, a red and a blue, enabling
various games to be played, as well as the building of two set figures.
Vintage versions are still available, and its great to see these photos of the historic puzzles.
Although they are much more fun to unpack and start puzzling ;o)
The small booklet could slide into the black plastic base of the puzzle.
A pretty view of the Red SOMA.
In original plastic wrapping
Red 1969 SOMA Cube Puzzle Game with Book
A blue version.
In original plastic wrapping
and the rare Orange version.
From Jan de Groot I received two "almost" identical booklets.
We (Jan and Thorleif) speculated on the year of printing, and the cause of differences.
Our initial thoughts
The text indicates that [V2] is printed in USA 1969, and that [V3] is printed in USA 1969.
So the [V2] and [V3] are almost identical, with the exception of page 54.
But - In [V3](page 54) we read about the SOMA Addict, which leads to the assumption that
[V3] should have been produced in or after 1970 where the first SOMA Addict was issued.
However it bares a stamp of 1969 on the first page.
My feeling is:
That [V2] is probably printed before 1970, Or better to say that it is indeed the 1969 version (As stated on the first page)
And then in 1970 the SOMA Addict had just emerged.
So Parker Brothers reprinted the booklet as [V3] using all the same pages
(even the first page with '1969' was reused) and they just changed the page 54 to mention the SOMA Addict.
Reading the [V2] page 54 it indicate that you may send puzzles. (Presumably intended for the upcoming SOMA Addict.
I assume that IF the SOMA Addict was already existing in 1969, then they would have mentioned its name in the [V2] print.
Booklet [V2] presumed 1969 - Page 54 read's
We will be glad to answer in-
quiries concerning these rules,
if we can. If you would like to
contribute puzzles or proofs in-
cluding impossibility proofs to a
periodical for addicts of this
game, just write to:
SOMA Addict |
Vol 1 No 1.
is issued 1970
Booklet [V3] presumed 1970 - Page 54 read's
Write for your Free copy of
THE SOMA ADDICT; a period-
ical for Soma lovers which
publishes new problems and
proofs and answers questions
about the Soma puzzle. Ma-
terial for the Soma Addict
comes from Piet Hein and
Soma-ites everywhere, so be
sure to send us anything
which you feel might be inter-
esting and you may see your
question or idea in print.
The SOMA Addict, by the way, was printed by Parker Brothers Inc.
Read about the SOMA Addict here:
Newsletter 1999.01.18 The 4 issues of Soma Addict.
Other trivia stuff.
In the Danish booklet of 1967 they use the word "Åndssvage" which translates directly to "Morornic"
In the "Early" booklet [V1] on page 19 they are talking about morons.
Such naming of people of weaker mind capabilities are no longer considered apporpriate.
As can be seen in books [V2] and [V3] on page 15 they speak of "People of limited ability".
Also note that:
In the Danish booklet of 1967 , The five seats bench is the last basic figure.
Whereas in Parker booklet [V1], the High and Low figures are the last.
A Multilingual SOMA booklet
At one time my grandfather collected an extra booklet from his frind Skjøde.
I do not know the year of manufacture, but it might be around the 1970's
Scans by Jan de Groot <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Written by Thorleif Bundgaard <email@example.com>
- written by Thorleif Bundgård.
BACK to news index