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She Invented, He Got Rich
I missed celebrating International Women's Day, 3/8. Did you ever get the sense that your history books are just one big boys club, filled with accomplishments by men, for men, and often to the exclusive benefit of men? Well here is a story that certainly plays out that way.
In 1904, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Magie designed a board game to demonstrate the tragic effects of land-grabbing. In this game, oligarchs enrich themselves at the expense of tenants, the latter of whom only grow poorer as available land decreases and the cost of rent increases. She named her grim reflection of life The Landlords’ Game, but you probably know it better as Monopoly.
Thirty-one years later, a man named Charles Darrow, who became the first board game millionaire, sold a game called Monopoly to George and Fred Parker. It was the game’s exciting promise of fame and fortune that initially prompted Darrow to produce this game on his own.” This finely-threaded needle of a history neglects to mention that Darrow stole the idea entirely from Lizzie Magie.
Approached by Parker brothers, they wanted to buy Lizzie Magie's board game only to avoid any infringement that their game had. It was far sexier to play up fictitious Great Depression origins than to describe how a couple of board game robber barons ripped off an old lady.
****** Online Question ******
After Monopoly became a hit, the brothers Parker moved quickly to seize all rights to the game. They tracked down the elderly Lizzie Phillips. How much did she get from Parker Brothers?
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