History of Board Games – Milton Bradley and the Parker Brothers

Monopoly game

Monopoly game

Board games have reached unparalleled popularity worldwide and this could be attributed to Hasbro Inc.  Even before the leading toy and board games manufacturer was organized in 1923, there was Milton Bradley and then the Parker Brothers. They are the legitimate pioneers in the design of board games in the United States.

Milton Bradley

The American gaming pioneer Milton Bradley is recognized as the father of the modern board game. Credited for the classic board game released in 1860 The Checkered Game of Life, he likewise launched the board game industry in the U.S. mainstream through the Milton Bradley Company.

Established in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1860, the Milton Bradley Company grew by leaps and bound, and in 1920 it was able to acquire McLoughlin Brothers – the largest gaming manufacturer in the United States during that period. However, Hasbro bought the rights to the Milton Bradley Company in 1984. Now merged with Hasbro, the company in 1987 took over Selchow and Righter, makers of the board games Parcheesi and Scrabble.

Parker Brothers

Founded in 1888, Parker Brothers was one of the first movers in the US board game industry. The company was able to launch more than 1,800 games and to this day Parker Brother board games remain a respected toy and game manufacturer brand.

The founder George S. Parker operated with a design philosophy that board games should be played for enjoyment and need not be conscious of the morals and values prevalent in other contemporary game board thesis. For instance, Parker’s first board game released in 1883 called Banking revolved on financial schemes. The board game endeavors players to borrow money from the bank and generate as much wealth as possible through methods and solutions based on the game literature. The game is played using 62 cards that portends the player’s successes and failures.

One of the more popular board games released by Parker Brothers during the Great Depression was Monopoly.  Today, Monopoly continues to be one of the bestselling board games worldwide, along with other popular board games created by the same outfit such as Clue, Trivial Pursuit, Aggravation, and Probe.

If Ford Motors is considered the icon in the Automobile Industry, the same degree of importance is accorded to Milton Bradley and the Parker Brothers in the board gaming industry.  Now both icons are under the Hasbro Inc. name, both have established an enduring legacy, because the board games that came out of their genius continue to inspire millions of enthusiasts worldwide.


  1. Diana Manning says:

    Hey Steve,

    We have 2 whole shelving units up in our attic, both completely filled with board games. Several are the original games that either my husband or myself had when we were kids! Most of them surely do have those Milton Bradley or Parker Brothers icons – Hasbro as well. We definitely have most of the games you mention in this article. Some get more use than others. In our family, Scrabble gets used the most by far, probably followed by Trivial Pursuit (we each have a favorite edition of questions – of course the ones we’re each best at)!



  2. Steve Maul says:

    There is no doubt those games are very popular, even today they take prime shelf space on the board game shelves. I love scrabble, but oddly enough I had english class. :)

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