On November 5, 1935, two things may have happened in the history of Monopoly. Either Parker Bros. began selling what would become one of the most popular board games in the world, or, Elizabeth Magie Phillips, the creator of “The Landlord’s Game,” traveled to Washington, D.C., to sign over the patent to George Parker for $500.
The contested origin of the Community Chest and its environs is a tale that weaves together economic theory, an out-of-work heating contractor, and of course, an old boot. According to Mary Pilon, the author of The Monopolists, Phillips initially created the game with two sets of rules: “An anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set in which the goal was to create monopolies and crush opponents. Her dualistic approach was a teaching tool meant to demonstrate that the first set of rules was morally superior.”
It was the more adversarial variant that grabbed the world’s attention—leading to versions of the game in 103 countries and 37 languages. Here, we take a look at the changing look of the game and its players, as well as its influence on popular culture.