The History of Memory Training

Two Time USA Memory Champion and Memory Training Expert Ron White shares the history of memory training:

I am always asked when I realized I had my special memory ability and when I tell people that I don’t have a special memory ability but instead it is a memory system they are somewhat taken off guard. Then the next question asked, ‘Oh, well when did you develop this memory training system?’ I must confess I would love to of developed this system but I am by no means the father of memory training. Nope…just someone who has taken the memory system and perfected it and taught it to others. In truth, the ‘Father of Memory Training’ was a man named Simonedes.

Simonedes was a Greek poet and he developed a memory method referred to as loci. Loci is a latin word meaning places. As the story goes, in 477 B.C. Simonedes was in a banquet hall full of people. He left the banquet and after he did the roof collapsed. The bodies were crushed so badly that they could not be recognized and that is when Simonedes stepped in. He said he could identify the bodies based upon where everyone had been sitting. After this was complete, as the story goes, the idea for a memory method had been born. The legend is that he realized if he could recall where people were sitting in a room what if it wasn’t people in the room but instead poetry, numbers or a list of words sitting in those spots? Would he be able to recall the information in the same way?

This is at least the legend on how memory training was first developed. That story supposedly happened 2500 years ago. I know that if I tell one of my friends something in three days it can get all twisted around, so after 2500 years who knows if this is really how Simonedes first developed memory training when thinking about how to improve memory. With that said, it is a great illustration for the method of loci. With this method, the core of the system is that you memorize spots in a room or city a and then attach whatever you want to recall to these locations. Here is a video of me discussing this memory method

 

 

So there you have it. Memory Expert Ron White is not the Father of Memory Training even as much as I wish I was…Instead, Simonedes is known as the Father of Memory Training and he lived in Greece 2500 years ago and developed the memory training method of loci.

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