The History of the Monopoly Board Game

Monopoly actually had it’s beginnings in 1904 with a woman named Lizzie Magee. She patented a game called The Landlords Game in this year. The game was based on Henry George’s theory of a single land tax, and was intended to show the evils of taxation and land ownership. Although published versions of the didn’t catch on the game itself did. Lizzie had an improved version of The Landlords Game patented in 1924.
The Landlords Game, later known as Auction Monopoly, had a cult following with northeastern college students and Georgists. Dan Layman learned the game in school and took it back with him to Indiana. There he did two things: he taught the game to Ruth Hoskins, and he sold a version of the game to Electronic Laboratories who published it as Finance.
Ruth Hoskins moved to Atlantic City and taught the game to her friends. As in the past the players changed the name of the properties to local, Atlantic City ones. In time she taught the game to Charles Todd, A childhood friend of Charles Darrow’s wife.
The Todd’s taught the game to the Darrow’s who fell in love with it. Darrow saw the potential of the game and started making sets by hand and selling them. As demand became greater than production Darrow enlisted the help of a printer to speed things up.
Darrow contacted Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley in 1934 trying to interest them in the game. Neither company was interested.
In early 1935 Parker Brothers took another look at Monopoly, saw how it was selling for Darrow, and made a deal to purchase the game.
Parker Brothers immediately had Darrow apply for a patent. In the meantime they purchased Magee’s 1924 for $500 and purchased Finance for $10,000.
The 1924 patent was immediately added to the legal lines on the Monopoly box and the Monopoly patent was also added after it was grated on 12/31/1935.
As Finance was almost a carbon copy of Monopoly Parker Brothers changed the game and started marketing it as their own. As part of the deal with Magee a revamped The Landlords Game was produced in 1939 with very little success.
Through the years Parker Brothers has hidden the past about Monopoly and claimed Darrow as it’s inventor. The truth came out in the 70s when the company producing Anti-Monopoly sued Parker Brothers.