How Monopoly Was Invented: The Anti-Capitalist Board Game

Elizabeth Magie, Inventor of Monopoly
Illustrations by Kirby Salvador

Elizabeth Magie (1866–1948)

In 1903, Elizabeth Magie filed a patent for The Landlord’s Game. The game had two sets of rules: one where players were rewarded when they bought up property and destroyed the competition, and one where players created shared wealth. Thirty years later, Charles Darrow sold a version of her game to Parker Brothers, and Monopoly became a staple in many American households. Magie created the game as a teaching tool about the dangers of America’s real estate moguls, yet was forced to watch from the sidelines as her dualist rules were abandoned and Darrow became a millionaire. In 1973, an economics professor trying to produce his own anti-monopolist game uncovered her original patents while he was entangled in a legal battle with Parker Brothers.

Quote by Elizabeth Magie, Inventor of Monopoly
“Let the children once see clearly the gross injustice of our present land system, and when they grow up the evil will soon be remedied.” –Elizabeth Magie

This feature originally appeared in the Play issue. For more inspiring stories from that issue, check out Playing Dress-Up Was My Job … So Who Was I? and Happy Hour with Ivy Mix.

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