“Monopoly” Board Game Was Invented By a Woman, Who Was Then Written Out of the Story


Growing up I LOVED the board game Monopoly. We’d keep a legal pad to track the side deals, such as allowing one player to raise money from another in order to fund the purchase of houses & hotels. But I’d never heard the actual story of its beginnings until recently when I read about The Landlord’s Game, a precursor from which Monopoly was essentially copied.

The Landlord’s Game was invested by Lizzie Magie who actually received a patent on her design in 1904. This was at a time when fewer than 1% of US patent applicants were female. She was also quite the radical, campaigning for equal wages and against a capitalist system which transferred wages away from workers. From The Guardian:

The gender-based disparity in wages upset Magie and she had no hesitation in speaking out against it. Shortly after receiving her Landlord’s Game patent, Magie staged an audacious stunt in which she placed an ad auctioning herself as a “young woman American slave” off to the highest bidder. The goal of the stunt, she told reporters, was to make a statement about the dismal position of women. She described the $10 a week she earned as a stenographer as “slavery of one kind or another” and also said that men were blind to the plight of the victims that the capitalist system created.