Classic board game Monopoly was patented 80 years ago—but did you know that the underlying gameplay is even older? As explained in a post on O Say Can You See, a blog run by the National Museum of American History, the game wasn't actually invented by Charles S. Darrow, the man who patented it on December 31, 1935. Instead, Darrow pretty blatantly ripped off The Landlord's Game, created in 1903 by a political activist named Elizabeth "Lizzie" Magie.
Ironically, Magie had set out to educate the public about the dangers of monopolies. Specifically, Magie hoped that The Landlord's Game would publicize the reforms proposed by Henry George, a political economist who theorized that land monopolies were the ultimate source of inequality. In a later 1924 patent for the game, Magie explained that the object of The Landlord's Game was "not only to afford amusement to the players, but to illustrate to them how under the present or prevailing system of land tenure, the landlord has an advantage over other enterprises and also how the single tax would discourage land speculation."
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