The History of Monopoly

The game of Monopoly has its origins in a game that was invented in 1904 by a Quaker named Lizzie Magie. The game was called, at the time, "The Landlord's Game". That game's original intent was to demonstrate that rental properties enriched landlords and impoverished tenants. "The Landlord's Game" was first published in 1906 by the Economic Game Company of New York.

"The Landlord's Game" was revised and republished in 1924, at which time the game was changed to include named streets. The game became popular with Quakers and students through word of mouth, and a variant version of "The Landlord's Game" called "Finance" was invented by Daniel Layman.  Among the changes included in this edition was the naming of the streets after Layman's hometown of Indianapolis. "Finance" was published by Parker Brothers well into the middle of the 1960's.

Multiple versions of these games proliferated, and a couple of versions were known as "Auction Monopoly" and "Monopoly". The major difference between versions was the street naming, which is a tradition that continues today. The gameplay was almost exactly the same as Monopoly is played now.

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Charles Darrow is often credited as the original creator of Monopoly, and he was the person who first distributed the edition of the game which featured Atlantic City street names. The version of Monopoly featuring Atlantic City street names is the version that is still most popular today. Darrow eventually sold the game to Parker Brothers, who also bought Magie's patent on finance and became the company associated with Monopoly for the rest of the century. Parker Brothers marketed Monopoly as Darrow's creation for decades.

Parker Brothers tried to prevent university professor Ralph Anspach from marketing and selling his Anti-Monopoly game in the 1970's but failed in the courts.

Throughout the 1990's and continuing through today, various editions of Monopoly have been made available. The main difference between these editions are the street names. (The Monopoly money in each game, for example, is almost always the same.) Themes for these editions include various city editions, movie and tv show themed editions, and even a national parks edition.

Monopoly has also spawned several spinoff games like Monopoly Junior and the Monopoly Card Game, Monopoly slot machines, and countless video game versions.