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Monopoly celebrates 80th anniversary on Thursday

Popular board game actually has origins in early 20th century

Game has inspired catchphrases, made streets famous, prompted different rules

CNN  — 

Is there anything Monopoly can’t do?

Over the course of its 80-year life, it’s been played underwater, underground, in space (OK, just the tokens) and on giant game boards. It’s used chocolate and featured real money. There have been games that barely lasted the night and marathon contests that went on for weeks.

Not bad for a game that, according to lore, maker Parker Brothers originally rejected for containing “52 fundamental errors.”

March 19 marks the official 80th anniversary of the world’s best-selling board game, now manufactured by Hasbro. Its circuitous history, like its game board, has been filled with several interesting turns. Here are a few:

It wasn’t original

Legend has it that Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman, invented the game in his kitchen in 1930. But the roots of Monopoly actually date back a few more decades, to a game called the Landlord’s Game created by Elizabeth Magie in 1903.

The Landlord’s Game was meant to be educational, illustrating economist Henry George’s belief – inspired by the Gilded Age – that property ownership by individuals is inherently unfair. Magie’s game was an underground success, leading to a number of offshoots, including the one that Darrow tweaked. Parker Brothers bought her patent for $500 in 1935, closing the loop.

As for Darrow, he was inspired in 1932 by a version created by a New Jersey Quaker community that made Atlantic City the locale of the game. Darrow added colors and other design elements – “a look and feel to his board that would prove immensely appealing,” writes Philip E. Orbanes in “Monopoly,” a 2006 history of the game.

Darrow’s game was initially rejected by Parker Brothers for three errors – not 52 – but when his independent sales took off, Parker Brothers bought the game from him. The date? March 19, 1935.

It’s been a huge success

The numbers are staggering. Monopoly has been translated into 47 languages. It’s played in 114 countries. It’s sold more than 275 million copies.

Hasbro prints $30 billion in Monopoly money each year, and well more than $3 trillion has been printed since 1935. Not bad considering each standard game comes with $20,580 – tho