Inventor: John Spinello
Company: Milton Bradley
Object of the game: Players compete to collect the most money by successfully removing parts of Cavity Sam — including his funny bone, his broken heart and the butterflies in his stomach — without letting the tweezers touch the metal edge of the opening.
History: As an industrial design student at the University of Illinois, John Spinello created a toy in which players tried to insert a metal probe into an electrified box without touching the sides. If a player failed, a bell went off. Spinello’s godfather worked for Marvin Glass & Associates and asked Spinello to present his idea to the company. Glass loved the game, gave the young Spinello $500 and added his name to the patent. Glass sold it to the Milton Bradley Company, which then decided to incorporate a surgical theme.
Updated versions: Over the years Milton Bradley has released multiple special editions of Operation, including Spiderman and Simpsons versions. The company also created a handheld version of the game as well as a computer game.
Trivia: The current game box hasn't changed much since its original release, except for one small tweak: The surgeon no longer holds a cigarette between his teeth as he operates on his patient.