This Day in History (6-Feb-1935) – “Monopoly” board game goes on sale for 1st time

The earliest known version of Monopoly, known as The Landlord’s Game, was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie, and first patented in 1904.  A series of board games were developed from 1906 through the 1930s that involved the buying and selling of land and the development of that land.  In Indianapolis Ruth Hoskins learned the landlord’s  game, and took it back to Atlantic City.  She made a new board with Atlantic City street names, and taught it to a group of local Quakers. One of the Quakers took the game to Philadelphia where Charles Darrow learned the game. After learning the game, Darrow then began to distribute the game himself as Monopoly. Darrow initially made the sets of the Monopoly game by hand when drew the designs with a drafting pen on round pieces of oil cloth, and then his son and his wife helped fill in the spaces with colors and make the title deed cards and the Chance cards and Community Chest cards. After the demand increased, Darrow contacted a printing company.

Darrow’s game board designs included the famous black locomotives on the railroad spaces, the car on “Free Parking”, the red arrow for “Go”, the faucet on “Water Works”, the light bulb on “Electric Company”, and the question marks on the “Chance” spaces. Darrow received a copyright on his game in 1933. He brought the game to Parker Brothers at the height of the Great Depression. The game was rejected in 1934 citing it to be too complex. However Darrow returned to Parker Brothers in 1935, when he could no longer keep up with the growing demand for his game and this time they accepted Monopoly.

More than 275 million games have been sold worldwide and it’s available in 111 countries, in 43 languages. Since 1935, more than one billion people have played the game. The longest MONOPOLY game in history lasted for 70 straight days. The most expensive version of the game was produced by celebrated San Francisco jeweler Sidney Mobell. Valued at $2 million, the set features a 23-carat gold board and diamond-studded dice. Digital version of MONOPOLY has launches on seven platforms in 27 countries, and is localized into 20 languages with nearly 10 million worldwide mobile phone game downloads.