The world’s most successful real estate agents buy and sell properties with reckless abandon, endeavoring to develop whole streets with houses and hotels, bankrupting their competition while trying to stay out of jail. It may sound like real life but we’re talking about Monopoly, the most popular board game ever. In fact, since it’s creation more than 100 years ago, 280 million sets have been sold and more than 1 billion people play in 111 countries. Here are some other fun facts about our first childhood lesson with buying and selling property:
Monopoly was first conceived in the early 1900’s by Elizabeth Magie, who called it The Landlord’s Game and patented its design in 1904.
The Landlord's Game was first designed to illustrate a couple of advanced economic theories, Ricardo's Law of Economic rent and the Georgist concept of a single tax on land value.
The object was to show that rents enriched property owners and impoverished tenants
It was the first game that had a continuous path around the board without start or finish, and also the first to have ownership of space on the board (with consequences to any player who lands there, even if the first player wasn’t present.)
Magie first submitted the game to Parker Brothers in 1910, which George Parker declined to publish because he thought it was too complex, took to long, and too political.
Never the less, the game grew in popularity as a teaching tool, used at Wharton, Smith College, the University of Toronto, Columbia, Princeton, and MIT.
England released its own version of The Landlord’s Game in 1913 by the Newbie Game Company, called Brier Fox and Brier Rabbit.
By 1933, a board game had been created much like the version of Monopoly sold by Parker Brothers and its related companies through the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st.
The purpose of the game is "to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling of property,"
There are 40 spaces on the board. The official location of these real life properties is Atlantic City, New Jersey. An early edition had properties from Chicago, like the Loop and Lakeshore Drive. International editions have different locations, like London for the Commonwealth edition. Some
By the 1970’s there were Monopoly tournaments all over the world.
In 1989 a Monopoly spin-off video game was released.
The original patent on The Landlord's Game expired in 1921, after which the game became known simply as Monopoly.
Patented as The Fascinating Game of Finance (later shortened to Finance) that had 4 railroads – one per side, chance, community chest,
Ruth Hoskins learned the game 1945 took it back to Atlantic City and taught Quakers
Reinstate the original rule that property was a set price not auction price
The game’s original character was called Rich Uncle Pennybags.
A man named Charles Darrow had learned a similar homemade game from a friend who learned it in college, and developed the game further and tried to claim it as his own. He took it to Milton Bradley and tried to sell, setting off 30 years of controversy and lawsuits around Monopoly. Even as late as the1970’s, it was widely believed that Darrow was the original creator.
The Landlord’s Game, Inflation, and Finance were some early names or versions of Monopoly.
The game that resembles our modern version of Monopoly was first marketed on a large scale by Parker Brothers in 1935.
At first the game had a time limit, forcing players to roll the dice, take their turn, and make decisions quickly.
Monopoly caught on overseas very quickly, with international editions played in the UK, France, and Germany.
The German edition in the 1930’s featured properties in Berlin, but was denounced, allegedly by Joseph Goebbels to the Hitler Youth due to the game's "Jewish-speculative character," though it’s believed he actually didn’t want to disclose real streets and properties where Nazi party members lived.
Escape maps, compasses and files were inserted into MONOPOLY game boards smuggled into POW camps inside Germany during World War II. Real money for escapees was slipped into the packs of MONOPOLY money
By 1938 the game had reached Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Chile, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, and Austria.
By World War II the game had reached huge popularity in the United States, with 800,000 games selling per year. During the war years, production of the game was suspended as materials and factories were reserved for items essential to the warm but after 1945, sales jumped to 1 million a year.
In the 1960s, "Monopoly happenings" and parties popped up. They had marathon sessions, games played on massive outdoor boards, on the ceiling of a University of Michigan dorm room, and even underwater!
The longest MONOPOLY game in history lasted for 70 straight days.
There was a Monopoly prime time game show in 1990 with host Mike Reilly and announcer Charlie O’Donnell.
The most expensive version of the game was produced by a famous San Francisco jeweler named Sidney Mobell, a $2 million game with a 23-carat gold board and diamond-studded dice!
The game went mostly without innovation in the modern era, but in 1998 Hasbro held a campaign to add a new token to the game. The public voted with phone calls, on a website, or at FAO Schwartz stores for a biplane, a piggy bank, or a sack of money. The sack of money won with 51% of the vote.
In 1999, Hasbro rebranded the Rich Uncle Pennybags mascot as “Mr. Monopoly.”
Monopoly has had special Star Wars, Pokémon, sports teams, and Millenium editions.
Hasbro released The Electronic Banking Edition in 2006, allowing the use of VISA-branded debit cards and a debit card reader instead of the classic paper bills.
There have been plenty of Monopoly parodies but none as controversial as Ghetoopoly, released in 2003 by David Change. His game has liquor stores, massage parlors, a peep show, pawn shops, Police shakedowns and carjackings.
The Mega Edition expanded to include fifty-two spaces, skyscrapers erected after hotels, train depots, the $1,000 bill, and bus tickets.
The first European Monopoly Championship was held in Reykjavík, Iceland, the same site as the 1972 World Chess Championship
The Monopoly name has also been made into instant-win lottery tickets, clothing, a line of model cars, slot machines, bathroom accessories, and collectible game tokens