Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Milton Bradley

Today we highlight Milton Bradley (1836-1911) as a hero of capitalism. Bradley helped bring the game board industry to North America with his invention of the board game The Checkered Game of Life and later formed the Milton Bradley Company.

Bradley originally taught himself lithography and print making with his best known work being a likeness of clean shaven Abraham Lincoln. However, once Lincoln grew his famous beard, Bradley's print making business struggled.

The young entrepreneur began to work on making an American board game similar to an imported game he had played with friends. This new game used a top that spun to indicate the number of squares to move, a first in American board games. Bradley was also the first to redefine the purpose of the board game. In his first game, The Checkered Game of Life, Bradley continued the tradition of using the game to impart moral advice to those playing, but he also defined success in the game by looking at how much wealth each player was able to create and obtain.

Bradley found success when he used his troubled business to print copies of this new game. Within two days, he sold all the copies he had printed and sold another 40,000 copies of the game in the first year alone.

With his invention of The Checkered Game of Life, Bradley also formed Milton Bradley Company, a successful game production company. Now owned by Hasbro, Inc, Milton Bradley and his company are responsible for other successful games like The Smashed-Up Locomotive, Candy Land, and Battleship.

The financial success Bradley enjoyed because of his invention allowed him to become an advocate for education, especially kindergarten.

Bradley's game board invention remained a success and was updated in 1960 to become The Game of Life. His emphasis on morals and the creation of wealth as well as his entrepreneurial spirit helped Bradley create a game millions of people have enjoyed playing and created the opportunity for Bradley to pursue his passion of reshaping education.

Sources:
National Inventors Hall of Fame: Milton Bradley
History of Toys: Inventors-Milton Bradley
Wikipedia entry on Milton Bradley & Milton Bradley Company

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