Voted the ‘world’s most successful board game’, Monopoly was developed by Philadelphia-born salesman Charles Darrow in the 1930s. After selling it to US game company Parker Bros, Monopoly received a US patent in 1935.
Parker Bros then gave Waddingtons, the UK printer and game publisher, a licence to manufacture and sell the game. To protect the monopoly on Monopoly abroad, Abel + Imray played its part by prosecuting the UK patent on behalf of Parker Bros. Granted in 1936, you can still see the patent and application numbers on 1930s and 1940s ‘War Time Packs’.
While families enjoyed battling over properties, Monopoly had a bigger part to play. Waddingtons worked with MI9 to smuggle maps, escape clues, and cash inside sets sent to British airmen held as POWs during WWII.
Today, the UK patent has long-expired and Hasbro owns Monopoly. But, licensed in over 80 countries, its ongoing success would make Darrow the first ever millionaire game designer.