I'll put the simple answer here. The long version is on my web site http://www.monopoly-history.com. Elizabeth Maggie invented The Landlords Game in 1903. Over the years people played the game on hand made boards and changed the rules as they saw fit. Ruth Hoskins learned the game and with the help of friends changed the street names to Atlantic City names. She then taught the game to Charles Todd who in turn taught it Charles Darrow. Darrow added the familiar cartoons to the board and changed the layout to what we know today and started making and selling the game. After an initial rejection he interested Parker Brothers and they bought the game from him. Knowing the true history of the game they had Darrow file for a patent. In the mean time they bought the Landlords game patent and bought out several others who were making similar games. They then covered it all up by claiming that Darrow was the inventor.