History of Memory Training

People often as me if I was born with a special memory ability, and when I realized I had it. The answer is, I do not have a special memory ability at all. What I have is a ‘memory system.’ This  takes them off guard, so the next question is: “When did you develop this memory training system?”

As much as I, Ron White, wish I was the “Father of Memory Training,” I am not. I’d like to think I have taken the wisdom from the ancient scholars and helped to fine-tune and bring memorizing techniques into what it is today so that I train to others, but the fact is the foundation for memory training was laid back in Greece ,2500 years ago, by a man names Simonedes.

Simonedes was a Greek poet. He developed a memory method referred to as ‘”loci,” a latin word meaning “places.”


As the story goes, in 477 B.C. Simonedes had just left a banquet full of people when the roof collapsed. Bodies were crushed and many of the people were so damaged they were unidentifiable. Simonedes came forward and said he could identify the bodies based upon where each of them had been sitting.

Later, Simonedes realized that if he could recall where people were sitting in a room, why not use place other things into a room you wanted to remember — like poems, numbers, lists, etc. They would be sitting in the same spot, and you could simply substitute other objects for people.  Was it possible this was a way to someone to memorize or learn how to remember names and faces or other things?

The basis of Simonedes method is that you memorize spots in a room, or city, and then attach whatever you want to recall to these locations. In his case it was the names of people sitting in each location in the banquet hall.

At least according to legend this was how memory training, and the method of loci was first developed. Since it was to have happened over 2500 years ago, and knowing how legends change over time (Remember the old game the teacher would play with you when she tells one person and they tell another until the person at the end of the line gets a whole different story?),   this may not be perfectly accurate, but however it first began it has been the foundation for all the world-class memory champions, memory experts and memory coaches every since.

You May Also Like