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How to Win at Monopoly

Monopoly: History

In 1930 an out of work engineering equipment salesman sat down to his kitchen table and developed the game of Monopoly. Charles Darrow was an entrepreneurial fellow, but he basically developed the game as a pastime for his family and friends. When he drew up the board he recalled his favorite vacation spot, Atlantic City. He named all of the streets and avenues after actual places in that city, that is, all except Marvin Gardens which he took from Margate. (In Margate the actual name is Marven Gardens.) The Railroads were named for actual railroads that served the town (except Short Line, which was actually a bus company).

It seems that in the midst of the great depression people had a longing to be big-time real estate tycoons, because everyone who played it seemed to enjoy it. Friends wanted a game for their own home; so Charles Darrow made a few from cardboard and wood. Soon, friends of friends wanted a set and Charles Darrow was charging for copies of his board game. Pretty soon department stores in Philadelphia got wind of it and were asking for large numbers of the game to stock their shelves at Christmas time. Darrow engaged a printer to help make the game and soon he was making six games per day. But this still did not meet demand.

Charles Darrow contacted Parker Brothers, the big game company. The engineers there liked the game, but thought it unlikely to sell because it was too complicated. They thought only adults would play the game and those would be few because the general public did not want to deal in the complexities of various levels of rents, mortgages, etcetera. Their analysis showed 52 flaws in the game. Their analysis proved dead wrong. The fame of the game continued to spread and FAO Schwarz bought 200 copies to sell in New York. A copy found its way into the hands Robert Barton, the president of Parker Brothers, who loved the game. He offered to buy the game outright from Darrow and then pay royalties on every game sold. Charles Darrow took the offer and soon became a millionaire.

Parker Brothers had found a great game and has sold the best selling Monopoly ever since. Monopoly has been presented to the public in many forms, from hamburger chain advertising campaigns to tailored games of every university and town -opoly. There is even a Harbor Beach-opoly depicting the businesses and landmarks in a small resort town in the Thumb of Michigan. As long as there is an entrepreneurial spirit in the heart of man, there will be Monopoly players, and the brainchild of Charles Darrow will continue to provide entertainment for millions.

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