Today in History: December 31

U.S. Patent No. 2,026,082 was granted to Charles Darrow on this date in 1935 for his creation of the board game Monopoly. Parker Brothers, the game manufacturer, was included in the patent. (A 1935 game box is at the top.)

The game was (and is) a variation of a board game called The Landlord’s Game, which had been around for decades by 1935. That game was created by Elizabeth Magie, who earned a patent (number 748,626) for her creation in 1904. Monopoly bears more than a passing resemblance to her creation: The Landlord’s Game included “Chance” cards.

Neither her name nor the phrase The Landord’s Game is cited in Darrow’s patent from 1935. This is in part due to the fact that Parker Brothers had already purchased Magie’s patent rights in the 1920s (which is appropriate for a game with the name Monopoly), and it is also because the company made Darrow swear under oath in affidavits that he had no previous knowledge or experience of her game. These were sworn lies, as he admitted, not under oath, that he knew about The Landlord’s Game and that he was inspired to come up with his own version of the game while playing it at a friend’s house.

The first game that George Parker, the founder of Parker Brothers, had invented was called Banking, and he started selling it in the 1880s. Edward Parker, George’s brother, did not like Monopoly at first, because it took too long to play: “We always felt that 45 minutes was about the right length for a game, but Monopoly could go on for hours. Also, a game was supposed to have a definite end somewhere. In Monopoly you kept going around and around.”

The patent gave Parker Brothers exclusive rights to the game, a game that neither Darrow nor Parker Brothers had invented. Both entities became very rich off Monopoly. Hasbro, which owns Parker Brothers, keeps adding modern aspects to the classic game, including a cashless version in which one uses a “banking card.”

* * * *
The tradition of a ball being dropped above Times Square to welcome the new year was begun in 1907 on this date to welcome 1908 to the world.

* * * *
President Harry S. Truman signed “Proclamation 2714—Cessation of Hostilities of World War II,” 70 years ago today. It emphasized that fighting continued but that it was time to declare the end of World War II. In every essential way the war had ended in August 1945, but there was no end to the number of Ts to be crossed and Is dotted with proclamations and treaties.

* * * *
The Beatles spent most of 1970 in the process of breaking up. Official declarations were followed with unofficial retractions and vice versa. Paul McCartney made what had been pretty much official even more so 46 years ago today when he brought a lawsuit against the other three members of the band to formally, finally, dissolve the partnership. It took another four years to accomplish.

* * * *
“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy … Let’s go exploring!” The final Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson was published in newspapers on this date 21 years ago. The quote was the last line published.

* * * *
Roberto Clemente died on this date in 1972. Marshall McLuhan died in 1980 on this date. Ricky Nelson died on this date in 1985. Senator Alan Cranston died in 2000 on this date. Natalie Cole died one year ago today.

* * * *
John Denver was born on this date in 1943. Donna Summer was born in 1948 on this date.

* * * *
George Schlatter is 84 today. Sir Anthony Hopkins is 79 today. “And The Waltz Goes On,” his composition, performed by the Johann Strauss Orchestra conducted by André Rieu (yes, the two worst words in music are “André Rieu,” but Sir Anthony is enjoying his music in the comically garbed ensemble’s hands—one does not attend a concert by the Johann Strauss Orchestra conducted by André Rieu for the music):

Andy Summers is 74 today. Taylor Hackford is 72. Diane von Furstenberg is 70. Bebe Neuwirth is 58. Val Kilmer is 57. For several years, Kilmer has been assembling and touring a one-man show as Mark Twain:

Scott Ian is 53. Nicholas Sparks is 51.

* * * *
A happy and safe New Year’s Eve to anyone who may encounter this.

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  1. rogershipp · December 31, 2016

    Monopoly…. One of my favorites! Have a blessed New Year!


  2. whippetwisdom · December 31, 2016

    Happy New Year Mark!🙋


  3. loisajay · December 31, 2016

    Calvin and Hobbes… strip ever. I didn’t realize it had been that long. Happy New Year to you and Jen, Mark!


  4. Itching for Hitching · December 31, 2016

    And a Happy New Year to you too Mark. Thanks for the stories and remembrances that time is slipping by. 😊


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