By Stephen Murray

The game of Monopoly is the one game almost everyone has probably played at

some stage in their life. Who could forget the thrill of passing go and collecting that

first 100 dollars....and then promptly losing it the next round with some fine...or

going  “directly to jail”

There has been many different board pieces over the years including very boring

wooden ones made during the second world war. My favourite piece was the

car...if some sod picked that before me Iwould get most upset. I was doomed to

lose, which I did most of the time anyway. As it went on for hours, it would often

end in tears, such was the frustration of landing on somebody’s house and hotel

crammed place on the board and losing the hard won, cash, cash.

That what Monopoly is all about, making money....the game mirrors life quite nicely

with the fantasy of being successful. That driving force behind winning, and making

the right decisions about what properties to buy, what to sell. Get it wrong , and

you lose everything.

I think that is why the game has been so successful, it teaches us about the world of

finance before we really know anything about it.

But how did all start?

Charles Darrow supposedly invented the game in the 1930’s...but he didn’t. He

successfully marketed the game and made it hot property. The real inventor was a

Elizabeth Magie  (Timeless Toys Tim Walsh pg 45) who won a patent on a game

called The Landlord’s Game in 1903.

The Landlord’s Game has many features that Monopoly has, the free parking, the 

jail, and collecting 100. The game would improve over the years leading up to

Charles Darrow’s final touches and marketing skills, Ruth Hoskins and her friends

renamed the properties to match the streets in their town and showed Charles the

game....Charles being a desperate fellow, having been unemployed for three years

during the great depression saw his chance. He gave it illustrations, more colour

and GO To Jail.  The changes were inspired, the illustrations striking, it made all the

difference. He copyrighted his version in 1933 and began making copies to his \

friends and associates. (Timeless Toys pg 50 Tim Walsh)

The game took off, being the time of great depression it must have taken the blues

away because it sold 20,000 copies a week at one stage to keep up with demand

(Timeless Toys pg 53)

Parker Brother’s promoted the rag to riches story and promoted the myth that

Charles was the sole  inventor because it made for good PR (Timeless Toys pg 53)

The game has lasted the test of time and been hugely successful, deserving its place

in popular culture.   


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