Parker Brothers’ famous game of economics, Monopoly, has been called “the most played board game in the world.” It’s certainly a believable title when you consider that, according to Hasbro, the game has been played by over 750 million people since Parker Brothers originally published it in 1935.
Monopoly is actually based on a game patented by Elizabeth J. Magie in 1906. The Quaker woman hoped to use The Landlord’s Game to explain Henry George’s single tax theory. Despite Magie’s original and renewed patents of the world’s most popular game, several versions of the game were created in the years before it was published by Parker Brothers. The name “Monopoly” was first applied to the game in 1910 when a shortened version called “Auction Monopoly,” which had eliminated the Georgist elements of the game, became popular.
In 1933, Charles Darrow copyrighted his own version of the game, simply called “Monopoly,” and began shopping for publishers. Despite having rejected Magie’s original Landlord’s Game twice and Darrow’s Monopoly once, Parker Brothers eventually elected to publish the game in 1935. Officially, neither Parker Brothers nor Hasbro, their parent company, acknowledge the history of the game prior to Charles Darrow’s version. They have, however, acquired Magie’s original patent.
The board as most players know it features locations in and around Atlantic City, New Jersey. A multitude of alternate editions, however, replace these properties with others more appropriate to the theme. Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition, for instance, replaces the two utilities in the game with solar and wind energy. Localized versions also exist for countries outside of the US.
Then, of course, there’s the game’s official mascot, Mr. Monopoly—known as Rich Uncle Pennybags until he was renamed by Hasbro in 1998. The character is loosely based on John Pierpont Morgan, billionaire and founder of J. P. Morgan & Co.
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