Monopoly History

If you've ever jokingly told someone "Do not pass go, do not collect $200' or claimed to have a "get out of jail free card,' you've experienced just how much influence the classic board game Monopoly has had on our culture. Find out just how far back this property-owning game goes, and consider its rich history the next time you're trying to snatch up Boardwalk and Park Place.

The Landlord's Game

The idea behind Monopoly goes back to a game called The Landlord's Game, patented by Lizzie Magie in 1903. Magie invented the game as a way to explain the concept of Georgism, an economic philosophy that promotes placing a tax on land value so that other forms of taxation can be eliminated.

The game was published by the Economic Game Company in 1906, but saw very little success at the time. During the 1910s and 1920s, however, The Landlord's Game did pick up a cult following in the Northeast and Midwest, and many players used their own custom handmade boards. In 1924, Lizzie Magie-Phillips filed for a new patent on an updated version of the game.


A man named Dan Layman learned about The Landlord's Game while he was in school, and he decided to publish his own version, which was called Finance. The game was published by Electronic Laboratories, and then Knapp Electric, and by 1935 Finance was outselling The Landlord's Game 10 to 1.

The game Finance was brought to Atlantic City by a woman named Ruth Hoskins, who played it with a group of her friends, but changed the names of the properties to local street names. The Atlantic City players also rearranged some of the spaces and changed some of the property values.

Charles Darrow

A fan of the updated Finance game, Charles Darrow, began selling handmade copies of the game to his friends in 1933. These became so popular that he needed to enlist the help of a printer, and together they released several editions of the game.

Darrow approached Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley, trying to sell them the game, but neither were interested at first. A year later, he tried again, and Parker Brothers finally decided they would like to pick up the game.

Monopoly is born

Before releasing Monopoly, Parker Brothers decided they wanted to do away with the competition, so they set their sights on acquiring all the patents for previous versions of the game. They easily bought the patent for The Landlord's Game for $500, but then had to fight through several negotiations to buy Finance from Knapp Electic, finally picking up the patent for $10,000.

In 1935, Parker Brothers began producing the game Monopoly. The original was very similar to the standard editions still played today, with several minor revisions taking place during the first few years.

Monopoly is now one of the most popular board games in the world, with hundreds of editions published in different languages and themes. This favorite game for adults and families alike is the result of several decades worth of ideas and changes, but luckily it managed to evolve into the beloved game it is today.

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