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Hall of Electrical History Foundation/CORBIS; Steve Miller/The Star-Ledger/Corbis
With cash scarce, Charles Darrow, an out-of-work engineer, designed a game in which players compete for massive riches and total domination of a city’s real estate. But he probably never imagined his creation, Monopoly, would become the bestselling board game of all time. Darrow’s concept wasn’t entirely original. It may have been borrowed from The Landlord’s Game, patented in 1924 by Elizabeth Magie, which also featured property ownership, rent, and railroad lines. Darrow gave his version a robber- baron patina, named properties after the streets of Atlantic City, and won his own patent in 1935. Darrow first tried to sell Parker Brothers on his idea, but it rejected the game, claiming it had 52 design errors. Undeterred, Darrow sold 5,000 handmade sets in a Philadelphia department store. Parker Brothers promptly changed its mind.