Who invented Monopoly?

16 Feb

I love a good board game. And thankfully it’s a trait my nephews have inherited.

Not so thankfully, I also hate to lose. And so it was with (very) gritted teeth I spent the first few years of their life letting them win. At least until the youngest invented the ‘I beat Aunty Lisa’ routine, which involved running around the house sharing the news – and associated dance moves – with the world.

Needless to say, the ceasefire ended immediately. And I have not lost since, no matter how many times my mother and sister ask if it makes me proud to beat a primary school student. Well yes, for the record, it does. Victory is victory.

Anyway, the last time I paid my nephews a visit we sat down to play Monopoly. It was a newfangled version that involved an interactive DVD, but the essence was still the same – buy as many property sets as you can, make sure other people can’t do the same and then make them mortgage everything they own to pay off their debt when they land on your hotel.

I’ll let you guess who won (me) but I was pretty stoked that despite all the advances in technology they can still be interested in a game I loved when I was their age. And it inspired me to find out who invented it.

While there is talk inspiration came directly from The Landlord’s Game invented by Elizabeth Magie, official credit goes elsewhere.

I’ll let Mr Monopoly take up the (paraphrased) story…

“It was 1934, the height of the Great Depression, when Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania, showed what he called the Monopoly game to the executives at Parker Brothers. Can you believe it, they rejected the game due to “52 design errors”! But Mr Darrow wasn’t daunted. Like many other Americans, he was unemployed at the time, and the game’s exciting promise of fame and fortune inspired him to produce it on his own. With help from a friend who was a printer, he sold 5000 handmade sets to a Philadelphia department store. People loved the game! But as demand grew, he couldn’t keep up with all the orders and came back to talk to Parker Brothers again. The rest, as they say, is history!”

Now here’s some fun facts I discovered..

* More than five billion little green houses have been “built” since 1935.
* The longest game in history went for 70 days.
* World records are maintained for the longest game in a treehouse (286 hours), underground (100 hours), in a bathtub (99 hours) and upside-down (36 hours).
* Escape maps, compasses and files were inserted into game boards smuggled into POW camps inside Germany during World War II. Real money for escapees was slipped into the packs of Monopoly money.
* The character locked behind the bars is called Jake the Jailbird. Officer Edgar Mallory sent him to jail.
* The highest rent property on the board has different names worldwide. In the US it is “Boardwalk” after a street in Atlantic City. In Spain, it is named “Paseo del Prado” after a street in Barcelona. And in France it is “Rue de la Paix”.

If only I really could collect $200 for passing Go!

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2 Responses to “Who invented Monopoly?”

  1. Gavin Lauman February 17, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    Not sure that I have ever won a game of monopoly. Probably explains why my real estate portfolio is so bare!

    • whatcanilearntoday February 17, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Well, I would offer to play and let you win, but we both know I’d never follow through. The winning instinct is just too strong!

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