Who Invented Monopoly?
- Lizzie Magie is the inventor of the rule-set and concept of the game that became Monopoly (this is proved by patents and other records).
- Charles Darrow is responsible for some key aspects of the modern version of Monopoly. Darrow self-marketed the game, patented it, and then sold it to Parker Brothers.
- Parker Brothers have stood behind Monopoly since the mid-1930’s making it the game what it is today.
Ultimately, Lizzie Magie should be credited with creating the game, Darrow with refining it, and Parker Brothers with promoting it for the past 80 years.
A video clip from the BBC showing Lizzie Magie as the inventor of Monopoly.
Who Was Lizzie Magie?
Elizabeth “Lizzie” J. Phillips née Magie was a board game designer, political thinker, and more. She created a number of games, including “the Landlord’s Game”. The Landlord’s Game was specifically designed to illustrate the teachings of Georgism (the economic philosophy of progressive era economist Henry George). According to Georgism economic value derived from land, including natural resources and natural opportunities, should belong equally to all residents of a community, but that people own the value that they create themselves.
In other words, Magie was a progressive board game designer who meant the game as a criticism of land ownership, and a promotion of individual value. This is somewhat ironic as she only made $500 selling the rights to her game, and never got any royalties or credit while Darrow and Parker Brothers got much better deals.
A video from the Smithsonian showing the history of Monopoly from Magie to Darrow.
Who Was Charles Darrow?
Charles Darrow was looking for work after losing his job in the Stock Market Crash of 1929. He saw neighbors and acquaintances playing a homemade board game where the object was to buy and sell property. Perhaps because resonated with his frustration associated with the crash, or perhaps just looking for opportunity, he created his own version of the game with his family, called it Monopoly, and started trying to sell it.
Ultimately, after a failed attempt to sell the game, some revisions, a patent, and self-marketing he sold the game to Parker Brothers as the games inventor.
FACT: Darrow refined the look of Monopoly transforming it into the iconic game we know today. He may have borrowed Magie’s rules and concept, and had a designer create the new look, but in the end, there would be no monopoly without Darrow.
The Parker Brothers Monopoly
After acquiring the rights to Monopoly Parker Brothers went on to publish Magie’s “the Landlord’s Game” alongside Marrow’s Monopoly. Ultimately, Monopoly made good on its name, becoming the only version most people remembered until recently.
GET OUT OF JAIL FREE: In 1941, the British Secret Intelligence Service had a licensed UK game manufacturer create a special edition of Monopoly for WW II prisoners held by the Nazis. Hidden inside these games were maps, compasses, real money, and other objects useful for escaping. They were distributed to prisoners by fake charity groups created by British secret service. In other words, between WWII and now we should probably cut Charles Darrow and Parker Brothers some slack for grossly underpaying Lizzie Magie.