Could the real inventor behind Monopoly please stand up?

imgresWho hasn’t played Monopoly?  It is one of those games that truly bring out some interesting dynamics with the players around the board.  The competition, the real estate moguls, the business smarts, etc.

There has been a few articles written recently about the real inventor behind the game Monopoly was not Charles Darrow but Elizabeth Magie.  Magie was a 30 years old single woman in 1903 who was able to get a patent on what she called The Landlord’s Game.  She was an avid supporter of Henry George who was an outspoken tax reformer who wanted to keep more money in the hands of the working class.  The game was about crushing your opponents through monopolies and that the creation of wealth benefited all.  Keep in mind that at that time women rarely were approved for patents, most of them were given to their husbands.

She began to manufacturer the game and in 1935 Parker Brothers paid her a mere $500 for the patent.  The game itself explored the economic and political shifts of that day.  What is amazing is that Charles Darrow, not the inventor of the game got a friend to take the Landlords Game, reinvent the names and look and then sold the new product to Parker Brothers $7k including residuals that amassed him a fortune.

What is fascinating is that the game was intended to create wealth for all but it ended up being a game to learn about money and entrepreneurship.  Even Parker Brothers sued people over the years based on trademark law so that nobody could ever use the Monopoly Game concept without paying something to Parker Brothers.  Yet, all along the person who really invented the game was a woman and a man got credit for it.  Damn..I have seen that story before.

Lots of articles due to this book that just came out called The Monopolists:  Obsession, Fury and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game by Mary Pilon  I plan on reading it.  I hope that through this book that the Magie family gets what should have been coming to her all these years instead of the incredible about cash and fame that Darrow has received.