Weird History

The True Story of Monopoly And Its Socialist Roots

When Charles Darrow sold the first version of Monopoly to Parker Brothers in 1935, the deal made him a very rich man. Parker Brothers perpetuated the lore surrounding Darrow’s story as an alleged rags-to-riches phenomenon - according to them a down-on-his-luck, depression-era man rose from the ashes through hard work and the desire to entertain his friends and family. In the end, he struck economic gold with his real estate board game that celebrates the highs and lows of a capitalistic society. Only this isn’t entirely true.

The real origin of the Monopoly properties - one of the most popular board games in history - involves a feminist inventor named Elizabeth Magie who was interested in single tax theory, a board game that was passed around various intellectual communities, and a small patent dated 30 years before Darrow ever sold Monopoly.

The game was created to teach players about the evils of a monopolist society and land grabs and to encourage socialist thought. However, after Darrow and Parker Brothers repackaged the game - making millions in the process - Magie’s magnum opus ironically became a symbol of capitalist greed, predatory land grabs, and unhealthy financial competition.