Monopoly was first marketed on a broad scale by Parker Brothers on November 5, 1935..Today, an estimated 500 million players from around the globe have been mesmerized by the Monopoly game since its creation. It remains a classic, passed down from generation to generation, making it the world's most popular game.
Although Monopoly is frequently said to have been invented by Charles Darrow in 1935, its origins actually go back to when Lizzie Magie, patented 748,626 (US) issued January 5, 1904, a game called "The Landlord's Game" with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people can find it hard to understand why this happens and what might be done about it and she thought that if Georgist ideas (that is, a supporter of political economist Henry George), were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.
This original game was enjoyable but although patented it was not taken up by a manufacturer until 1910 when it was published in the US by the Economic Game Company of New York. Apart from commercial distribution, it spread by word of mouth and was played in slightly variant home-made versions over the years by Quakers, Georgists, university students and others who became aware of it. As it spread, its rules were changed, most notably in dropping the second phase of the game during which a Land tax was introduced to replace the other taxes, and the shortened game became known as "Auction Monopoly".
It was often localized; the original fanciful property names being replaced by street names from the cities where the players lived. By the late 1920s it was known as just plain "Monopoly" and was played very much as it is now. One version of the game, commonly played in the Philadelphia area, had Atlantic City street name. In 1929 Ruth Hoskins began playing Monopoly in Indianapolis with her brother James and his friend Robert Frost "Pete" Daggett Jr., who was a friend of Dan Layman.
In 1933, Charles B. Darrow played a game on oil cloth on his kitchen table, fell in love with the game's exciting promise of fame and fortune. He played "Monopoly" at home with his family and friends. But others soon heard of the game and ordered sets of their own. Later that year Charles Darrow patented and sold copies of the game as his personal invention. Darrow went to work, making hand-made copies of Monopoly and selling them for $4.00 apiece.
When demand for the game grew beyond his ability to fill orders, he brought the game to Parker Brothers who first rejected it on the basis there were 52 design errors. Undaunted, Darrow continued to produce handmade editions on his own and was highly successful. Parker Brothers caught wind of the success and decided to buy the rights to the game. In 1935, owned by Parker Brothers, the Monopoly® game became America's best selling game. Parker Brothers subsequently decided to pay off Magie, and others who had copyrighted commercial variants of the game, in order to have legitimate, undisputed rights to the game, and promoted Darrow as its sole inventor.
After buying up Lizzie Magie's patent for $500 and no royalties, Parker Brothers marketed a few hundred sets of The Landlord's Game and then buried it forever. Then it turned to a more dangerous flaw in the plans to rescue the firm with Monopoly: "A game surprisingly similar to Darrow's and known as Monopoly was played on homemade boards in the DKE house at Williams College in 1927 et seq. It developed in Reading, Pa., much earlier than that.
"Almost exactly this same game as played at Williams was put on the market in Indianapolis early in 1932 through L. S. Ayres & Co. The name was changed to Finance for trademark reasons. Dan Layman's predecessor Finance. That cost more money: $10,000. But none of it went to Layman. A victim of the Great Depression, broke and desperate for money, he had sold his interest in Finance to a small games manufacturer, David W. Knapp, for $200.
Once Finance was wrapped up, Parker Brothers turned to another Monopoly-like game called "Inflation," manufactured by a Texan named Rudy Copeland. Early in 1936 Parker Brothers sued Copeland for patent infringement. Copeland countersued, charging that Darrow's and therefore Parker Brothers' patent on Monopoly was invalid. If the details forming the basis for that charge had become public knowledge, Parker Brothers might never have gone to reap a fortune from Monopoly. But Parker settled the lawsuit immediately by paying Copeland $10,000 to surrender his rights and keep his mouth shut.
Decades later, when they attempted to suppress publication of a game called Anti-Monopoly, designed by Ralph Anspach, the trademark suit went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1983, and the court found in favor of Anspach because Darrow did not actually invent the game.
There is no accounting for the unrivaled devotion that the Monopoly game has garnered over the past sixty years. Some say it is the chance to build a fortune, take a risk, make an acquisition. Others insist it is the drama of competition. Edward P. Parker, former president of Parker Brothers suggested that the magic of the game Monopoly is "clobbering your best friend without doing any damage."
DID YOU KNOW?
· Over 200 million games have been sold worldwide. More than five billion little green houses have been "built" since 1935.
· A set made by Alfred Dunhill, with gold houses and silver hotels, sold for $25,000.
· The longest game in history lasted 70 straight days.
· In its current and well-known incarnation, the Monopoly game is so firmly capitalist that it was once banned in Russia and China and is still outlawed in North Korea and Cuba.
· In 1970, a few years after Charles Darrow's death, Atlantic City erected a commemorative plaque in his honour. It stands on the Boardwalk, near the juncture of Park Place.
· Sometimes, circumstances call for a special MONOPOLY® set to be used. The students of Juniata College in Huntington, PA had a "big idea" in the spring of 1987 and turned part of their campus into a MONOPOLY® board larger than a city block. Giant foam rubber cubes were used for dice, and bicycle messengers with walkie-talkies kept players informed of their moves.
· In 1978, Neiman Marcus demonstrated its good taste by offering a $600 full-size chocolate MONOPOLY® game in its Christmas catalogue. Requests came pouring in from chocolate and game lovers alike. And in 1991, the Franklin Mint issued a collectible MONOPOLY® game selling for $550 that included gold and silver pieces.
Sourced at Idea Finders