The history of Monopoly can be traced back to 1904 , when a Quaker woman named Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie Phillips created a game through which she hoped to be able to explain the single tax theory of Henry George (it was intended to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies). Her game, The Landlord’s Game, was commercially published in 1924.
In 1941, the British Secret Service had John Waddington Ltd., the licensed manufacturer of the game outside the U.S., create a special edition for World War II prisoners of war held by the Nazis. Hidden inside these games were maps, compasses, real money, and other objects useful for escaping. They were distributed to prisoners by secret service-created fake charity groups.
By the 1970s, the game’s early history had been lost, and the idea that it had been created solely by Charles Darrow had become popular folklore. This was stated in the 1974 book The Monopoly Book: Strategy and Tactics of the World’s Most Popular Game, by Maxine Brady, and in the instructions of the game itself.
Because of the lengthy court process and appeals, the legal status of Parker Brothers’ trademarks on the game was not settled until the late 1970s. Ralph Anspach won a lawsuit over his game Anti-Monopoly on appeals in 1979, as the 9th District Court determined that the trademark Monopoly was generic, and therefore unenforceable.