On November 5, 1935, Parker Brothers launched the game of Monopoly. From the article:
"The board game Monopoly has its origins in the early 20th century. The earliest known version of Monopoly, known as The Landlord's Game, was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie, and first patented in 1904 but existed as early as 1902. Magie, a follower of Henry George, originally intended The Landlord's Game to illustrate the economic consequences of Ricardo's Law of Economic rent and the Georgist concepts of economic privilege and land value taxation. 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. By 1933, a board game had been created much like the version of Monopoly sold by Parker Brothers and its related companies through the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st. Several people, mostly in the Midwestern United States and near the East Coast, contributed to the game's design and evolution.
By the 1970s, the idea that the game had been created solely by Charles Darrow had become popular folklore; it was printed in the game's instructions for many years, in a 1974 book devoted to Monopoly, and was cited in a general book about toys even as recently as 2007. Even a guide to family games published for Reader's Digest in 2003 only gave credit to Darrow and Elizabeth Magie, erroneously stating that Magie's original game was created in the 19th century, and not acknowledging any of the game's development between Magie's creation of the game, and the eventual publication by Parker Brothers.
Also in the 1970s, Professor Ralph Anspach, who had himself published a board game intended to illustrate the principles of both monopolies and trust busting, fought Parker Brothers and its then parent company, General Mills, over the copyright and trademarks of the Monopoly board game. Through the research of Anspach and others, much of the early history of the game was "rediscovered" and entered into official United States court records. Because of the lengthy court process, including appeals, the legal status of Parker Brothers' copyright and trademarks on the game was not settled until 1985. The game's name remains a registered trademark of Parker Brothers, as do its specific design elements; other elements of the game are still protected under copyright law. At the conclusion of the court case, the game's logo and graphic design elements became part of a larger Monopoly brand, licensed by Parker Brothers' parent companies onto a variety of items through the present day. Despite the "rediscovery" of the board game's early history in the 1970s and 1980s, and several books and journal articles on the subject, Hasbro (Parker Brothers' current parent company) did not acknowledge any of the game's history before Charles Darrow on its official Monopoly website as recently as June 2012, nor did they acknowledge anyone other than Darrow in materials published or sponsored by them, at least as recently as 2009.
International tournaments, first held in the early 1970s, continue to the present, although the last national tournaments and world championship were held in 2009. Starting in 1985, a new generation of spin-off board games and card games appeared on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1989, the first of many video game and computer game editions was published. Since 1994, many official variants of the game, based on locations other than Atlantic City, New Jersey (the official U.S. setting) or London (the official Commonwealth setting, excepting Canada), have been published by Hasbro or its licensees. In 2008, Hasbro permanently changed the color scheme and some of the gameplay of the standard U.S. Edition of the game to match the UK Edition, although the U.S. standard edition maintains the Atlantic City property names. Hasbro also modified the official logo to give the "Mr. Monopoly" character a 3-D computer-generated look, which has since been adopted by licensees USAopoly, Winning Moves and Winning Solutions. And Hasbro has also been including the Speed Die, introduced in 2006's Monopoly: The Mega Edition by Winning Moves Games, in versions produced directly by Hasbro (such as the 2009 Championship Edition).
In 1903, the Georgist Lizzie Magie applied for a patent on a game called The Landlord's Game with the object of showing that rents enriched property owners and impoverished tenants. She knew that some people would find it hard to understand the logic behind the idea, and she thought that if the rent problem and the Georgist solution to it were put into the concrete form of a game, it might be easier to demonstrate. She was granted the patent for the game in January 1904. The Landlord's Game became one of the first board games to use a "continuous path", without clearly defined start and end spaces on its board. Another innovation in gameplay attributed to Magie is the concept of "ownership" of a place on a game board, such that something would happen to the second (or later) player to land on the same space, without the first player's piece still being present. A copy of Magie's game that she had left at the Georgist community of Arden, Delaware and dating from 1903–1904, was presented for the PBS series History Detectives. This copy featured property groups, organized by letters, later a major feature of Monopoly as published by Parker Brothers.
Although The Landlord's Game was patented, and some hand-made boards were made, it was not actually manufactured and published until 1906. Magie and two other Georgists established the Economic Game Company of New York, which began publishing her game. Magie submitted an edition published by the Economic Game Company to Parker Brothers around 1910, which George Parker declined to publish. In the UK, it was published in 1913 by the Newbie Game Company under the title Brer Fox an' Brer Rabbit. Shortly after the game's formal publication, Scott Nearing, a professor in what was then known as the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania, began using the game as a teaching tool in his classes. His students made their own boards, and taught the game to others. After Nearing was dismissed from the Wharton School, he began teaching at the University of Toledo. A former student of Nearing, Rexford Guy Tugwell, also taught The Landlord's Game at Wharton, and took it with him to Columbia University. Apart from commercial distribution, it spread by word of mouth and was played in slightly variant homemade versions over the years by Quakers, Georgists, university students (including students at Smith College, Princeton, and MIT), and others who became aware of it.
A shortened version of Magie's game, which eliminated the second round of play that used a Georgist concept of a single land value tax, had become common during the 1910s, and this variation on the game became known as Auction Monopoly. The auctioning part of the game came through a rule that auctioned any unowned property to all game players when it was first landed on. This rule was later dropped by the Quakers, and in the current game of Monopoly an auction takes place only when an unowned property is not purchased outright by the player that first lands on it. That same decade, the game became popular around the community of Reading, Pennsylvania. Another former student of Scott Nearing, Thomas Wilson, taught the game to his cousin, Charles Muhlenberg, around 1915–1916. The original patent on The Landlord's Game expired in 1921. By this time, the hand-made games became known simply as Monopoly. Charles Muhlenberg and his wife, Wilma, taught the game to Wilma's brothers, Louis and Ferdinand "Fred" Thun, in the early 1920s.
Simultaneous to these events, Magie moved back to Illinois, and married Andrew Phillips. She moved to the Washington, D.C. area with her husband by 1923, and re-patented a revised version of The Landlord's Game in 1924 (under her married name, Elizabeth Magie Phillips). This version, unlike her first patent drawing, included named streets (though the versions published in 1910 based on her first patent also had named streets). Magie sought to regain control over the plethora of hand-made games. For her 1924 edition, a couple of streets on the board were named after Chicago streets and locations, notably "The Loop" and "Lake Shore Drive." This revision also included a special "monopoly" rule and card that allowed higher rents to be charged when all three railroads and utilities were owned, and included "chips" to indicate improvements on properties. Magie again approached Parker Brothers about her game, and George Parker again declined, calling the game "too political". Parker is, however, credited with urging Magie to take out her 1924 patent.
After the Thuns learned the game, they began teaching its rules to their fraternity brothers at Williams College around 1926. Daniel W. Layman, in turn, learned the game from the Thun brothers (who later tried to sell copies of the game commercially, but were advised by an attorney that the game could not be patented, as they were not its inventors). Layman later returned to his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, and began playing the game with friends there, ultimately producing hand-made versions of the board based on streets of that city. Layman then commercially produced and sold the game, starting in 1932, with a friend in Indianapolis, who owned a company called Electronic Laboratories. This game was sold under the name The Fascinating Game of Finance (later shortened to Finance). Layman soon sold his rights to the game, which was then licensed, produced and marketed by Knapp Electric. The published board featured four railroads (one per side), Chance and Community Chest cards and spaces, and properties grouped by symbol, rather than color. Also in 1932, one edition of The Landlord's Game was published by the Adgame Company with a new set of rules called Prosperity, also by Magie.
It was in Indianapolis that Ruth Hoskins learned the game, and took it back to Atlantic City. After she arrived, Hoskins made a new board with Atlantic City street names and railroads, and taught it to a group of local Quakers. It has been argued that their greatest contribution to the game was to reinstate the original Lizzie Magie rule of "buying properties at their listed price" rather than auctioning them, as the Quakers did not believe in auctions. Another source states that the Quakers simply "didn't like the noise of the auctioneering." Among the group taught the game by Hoskins were Eugene Raiford and his wife, who took a copy of the game with Atlantic City street names to Philadelphia. Due to the Raifords' unfamiliarity with streets and properties in Philadelphia, the Atlantic City-themed version was the one taught to Charles Todd, who in turn taught Esther Darrow, wife of Charles Darrow. After learning the game, Darrow then began to distribute the game himself as Monopoly and never spoke to the Todds again. Darrow initially made the sets of the Monopoly game by hand with the help of his first son, William Darrow, and his wife. Their new sets retained Charles Todd's misspelling of "Marvin Gardens" and the renaming of the Shore Fast Line the Short Line. Charles Darrow drew the designs with a drafting pen on round pieces of oilcloth, 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 for the game increased, Darrow contacted a printing company, Patterson and White, which printed the designs of the property spaces on square carton boards. Darrow's game board designs included elements later made famous in the version eventually produced by Parker Brothers, including 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, though many of the actual icons were created by a hired graphic artist. While Darrow received a copyright on his game in 1933, its specimens have disappeared from the files of the United States Copyright Office, though proof of its registration remains.
Darrow first took the game to Milton Bradley and attempted to sell it as his personal invention. They rejected it in a letter dated May 31, 1934. After Darrow sent the game to Parker Brothers later in 1934, they rejected the game as "too complicated, too technical, [and it] took too long to play." Darrow received a rejection letter from the firm dated October 19, 1934. During this time, the "52 design errors" story was invented as a reason why Parker rejected Monopoly, but this has more recently been proven to be part of the Parker-invented "creation myth" surrounding the game.
In early 1935, however, the company heard about the game's excellent sales during the Christmas season of 1934 in Philadelphia and at F.A.O. Schwarz in New York City. Robert Barton, President of Parker Brothers, contacted Darrow and scheduled a new meeting in New York City. On March 18, Parker Brothers bought Darrow's game, helped him take out a patent on it, and purchased his remaining inventory. By April, 1935, the company had learned that Darrow was not the sole inventor of the game, but sought out an affidavit by Darrow to repeat his statements to the contrary, and thus bolster their claim to the game. Parker Brothers subsequently decided to buy out Magie's 1924 patent and the copyrights of other commercial variants of the game to claim that it had legitimate undisputed rights to the game.
Robert Barton, president of Parker Brothers, bought the rights to Finance from Knapp Electric later in 1935. Finance would be redeveloped, updated, and continued to be sold by Parker Brothers into the 1970s. Other board games based on a similar principle, such as a game called Inflation, designed by Rudy Copeland and published by the Thomas Sales Co., in Fort Worth, Texas, also came to the attention of Parker Brothers management in the 1930s, after they began sales of Monopoly. Copeland continued sales of the latter game after Parker Brothers attempted a patent lawsuit against him. Parker Brothers held the Magie and Darrow patents, but settled with Copeland rather than going to trial, since Copeland was prepared to have witnesses testify that they had played Monopoly before Darrow's "invention" of the game. The court settlement allowed Copeland to license Parker Brothers' patents. Other agreements were reached on Big Business by Transogram, and Easy Money by Milton Bradley, based on Daniel Layman's Finance. Another clone, called Fortune, was sold by Parker Brothers, and became combined with Finance in some editions.
Monopoly was first marketed on a broad scale by Parker Brothers in 1935. A Standard Edition, with a small black box and separate board, and a larger Deluxe Edition, with a box large enough to hold the board, were sold in the first year of Parker Brothers' ownership. These were based on the two editions sold by Darrow. Parker Brothers sets were the first to include die-cast metal tokens for playing pieces, initially using a battleship, a cannon, a clothes iron, a shoe, a top hat, and a thimble. George Parker himself rewrote many of the game's rules, insisting that "short game" and "time limit" rules be included. On the original Parker Brothers board (reprinted in 2002 by Winning Moves Games), there were no icons for the Community Chest spaces (the blue chest overflowing with gold coins came later) and no gold ring on the Luxury Tax space. Nor were there property values printed on spaces on the board. The Income Tax was slightly higher (being $300 or 10%, instead of the later $200 or 10%). Some of the designs known today were implemented at the behest of George Parker. The Chance cards and Community Chest cards were illustrated (though some prior editions consisted solely of text), but were without "Rich Uncle Pennybags", who was introduced in 1936.
Late in 1935, after learning of The Landlord's Game and Finance, Robert Barton held a second meeting with Charles Darrow in Boston. Darrow admitted that he had copied the game from a friend's set, and he and Barton reached a revised royalty agreement, granting Parker Brothers worldwide rights and releasing Darrow from legal costs that would be incurred in defending the origin of the game."