Gamers have played and fought over the classic board game “Monopoly” since 1935. But how much do you really know about the game? Who invented it, and why? To your surprise, however, the game was actually invented all because of the Great Depression. At least one good thing resulted from that era, right?
How the game was started
In 1932, Philadelphia businessman Charles Todd and his wife, Olive, introduced their friends to a real-estate board game they recently learned based on the 1903 game “The Landlord’s Game” invented by Elizabeth Magie. The friends quickly caught on to the thrill of the game, and the Todds made a version for their friends. The game spread in their inner circle of friends, and it was quickly referred to as “the monopoly game.”
One of those friends, Charles Darrow, asked Todd for the instructions. After he received them, he turned around and redesigned the game himself as “Monopoly.” His version had the classic color-banded squares, railroad icons, and the “Go” square associated with the game.
After being stabbed in the back by his friend, Todd never spoke to him again. But Darrow wouldn’t own the game for long.
Buying the copyrights and making it their own
The board game grabbed the attention of toy and game manufacturers Parker Brothers, who wanted to buy it and sell it nationwide. The company secured the game’s copyrights from Darrow after 1934’s busy Christmas season. Parker Brothers saw that people were buying the game, in spite of the Great Depression.
Parker Brothers began selling the game on February 6, 1935. Within a year, they produced 20,000 copies and “Monopoly” became the best-selling game in America.
Having fun during a depressing time
Everyone knows the Great Depression was a dark time in U.S. history. But things changed when “Monopoly” was introduced. While there were financial difficulties, people were happy to play a fun game.
“People did not have money, but they had time on their hands and here comes this game that, for a period of two-three-or-more hours, gives you the feeling that you’re rich,” said Philip Orbanes, author of Monopoly: The World’s Most Famous Game.
That’s a pretty good reason to have some fun in one of the darkest times in the 20th century.