The design of this board game started in 1904
with a woman named Elizabeth Magie.
She was a fan of a book called “Progress and Poverty”
by economist Henry George.
In it he argued that
renting out land only profited a few individuals
at the expense of the community.
To teach people about George’s theories,
Lizzie Magie created a game
with 2 sets of rules.
In one, players all shared money
when someone purchased a piece of land.
And in the other everyone tried to get as rich as possible
while bankrupting others.
This way she hoped people would see
how unfair land-grabbing was.
The Landlord’s Game as it was known,
became popular, particularly among Quakers.
With each person drawing
the board by hand on to tablecloths or fabric
and modifying the rules.
One of those people was Charles Darrow.
He would only use the rules which were cutthroat
and made a version of the board in the shape of his dining table
He also took street names from Atlantic City
grouping them by color and adding small illustrations
to create the board we know today
When Parker Brothers bought the rights to Monopoly from Darrow in 1935
they soon added a portly mascot
with a top hat and cane
rumoured to be modelled on wealthy banker J.P. Morgan.
They also distributed every set
with metal tokens
inspired by the trinkets Darrow had used from his niece’s charm bracelet.
Within a year of the release,
35,000 copies of Monopoly were being made each week.
Now more than 1 billion people
in 114 countries have played the game.
Classic and familiar, this is the design
that set out to make us work together
but has been dividing families ever since.