Although Hasbro’s official history of Monopoly has it that the board game was invented by an unemployed steam-radiator repairman and part-time dog walker in Philadelphia named Charles Darrow, the real history is quite different.
Three decades before Darrow’s patent, an actress in Maryland named Lizzie Magie create a “proto-Monopoly” game as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a 19th-century writer who argues in his book, Progress and Poverty (1879), that no single person could “own” land.
“[Magie’s game’s] chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, ‘Prosperity is achieved,'” according to Harper’s.