This Is What the First-Ever Monopoly Game Looked Like

Yes, there was still a jail and you did still collect money when you passed Go.

Monopoly is arguably one of the most popular board games in modern history. But, the original version, released in 1906, doesn’t look like the version sitting on your shelf at home right now nor do any of these other everyday objects that looked completely different 100 years ago. In fact, Monopoly didn’t even have the same name.

A young woman by the name of Elizabeth Magie created the game to show a “practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences.” She was inspired after reading Henry George’s book, Progress and Poverty. The first version of the game was called The Landlord’s Game.

Thomas Forsyth has spent that last 20 years researching the history of The Landlord’s Game. “Elizabeth saw a concentration of the nation’s wealth with a small minority of people and wanted a way to teach people that it not only would grow worse if left alone, but that solutions existed to remedy the problem.” She hoped the game would solve those problems.

first monopoly boardCourtesy Thomas E Forsyth

As time went on, The Landlord’s Game was played in classrooms to teach them about the economy. Students added new rules and changed the board around, with the name evolving from The Landlord’s Game to Auction Monopoly to finally just Monopoly. Bet you probably never knew about this game-changing Monopoly rule, though!

Parker Brothers soon bought the patent and sales for the game exploded. Since then, multiple newer versions of the game have been published.

Forsyth has started to sell replicas of the first-ever Monopoly game, which looks just like Magie’s first release of The Landlord’s Game. “Right now we see history repeating itself with a great concentration of wealth, so it really is a perfect time to revisit a release of the original game after more than 100 years of solitude,” says Forsyth.

monopoly board versionsCourtesy Thomas E Forsyth

monopoly board in playCourtesy Thomas E Forsyth

If the history of Monopoly has you hooked, you won’t want to miss the insane trivia facts behind more of your favorite games.

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.