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  • Writer's pictureRich Honiball

Today in Brand History: Monopoly

On February 6, 1935, the first edition of the Monopoly board game was sold by Parker Brothers, a board game company based in Salem, Massachusetts. Monopoly was not a new game, it had been invented years before by an American named Charles Darrow, who had been playing a homemade version with his friends and family. In 1934, Darrow approached Parker Brothers with the game and they quickly saw its potential and made the necessary adjustments to mass-produce it.

The origins of Monopoly can be traced back to 1903, when a Quaker woman named Lizzie Magie created a game called “The Landlord’s Game” to teach people about the dangers of monopolies and the benefits of a single tax system. The game was later and ironically picked up by anti-monopolists and became popular in certain circles before eventually fading away. Darrow, who was working as a heating engineer at the time, stumbled upon the game in the early 1930s and made his own version, adding new rules and designs. He initially sold the game himself and it became popular in the Philadelphia area. After being approached by Parker Brothers, Monopoly was mass-produced for the first time and became an instant success. One of the interesting and lesser-known facts about Monopoly is that it was initially rejected by Parker Brothers because they felt it was too similar to other games on the market. However, after the Great Depression hit, the company changed its tune and saw the potential of the game to provide people with a form of escapism from their financial struggles.

Monopoly quickly became a staple in households across the United States and around the world. In 1936, Parker Brothers began selling versions of the game overseas, with local versions being created for countries such as England, France, and Australia. The popularity of Monopoly spread rapidly, with the game eventually becoming a symbol of American culture and capitalism.

In the decades that followed, Monopoly became a cultural phenomenon, with numerous editions of the game being released for specific cities, countries, and even television shows and movies. In the 1960s, Parker Brothers introduced electronic versions of the game, further increasing its popularity.

One of the more interesting editions of Monopoly was released in 1997, when the company partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to create “Monopoly: Save Your Planet”. This version of the game taught players about environmental conservation and the importance of taking care of the planet.

The game has also been used as a tool for education and rehabilitation. In the 1970s, Monopoly was introduced into the penal system in the United States as a means of teaching prisoners about finance and business (I am struggling with the "Get Out of Jail Free" card here). It has also been used in therapy sessions as a way of teaching patients about money management and problem-solving.

Today, Monopoly remains one of the most popular board games in the world, with millions of copies sold every year. The game has been updated to keep up with changing times, with new editions being released for different platforms such as computer, mobile, and video game consoles. Monopoly has become a symbol of American culture and continues to be a staple in households around the world.

More than just a board game, it is a cultural phenomenon that has stood the test of time. From its humble beginnings as “The Landlord’s Game” to its current status as one of the most popular board games in the world, Monopoly has captured the imagination of millions of people from Atlantic Place to Boardwalk. (see what I did there?)


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