Parker Brothers is a toy and game manufacturer and brand. Since 1883, the company has published more than 1800 games; among their best known products are Monopoly, Cluedo (licensed from the British publisher and known as Clue in North America), Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Ouija boards, Aggravation and Probe. Parker Brothers is currently a subsidiary of Hasbro.
One day the teenaged Parker boys were playing one of the games meant to teach a moral lesson, Everlasting, and felt bored. George decided to modify the game by adding lettered cards and a borrowing rule and came up with Banking where the new objective was to become the richest player by winning speculations. A speculation began when a lettered card was played and ended when another card of the same letter was played. The winner was the one who eventually claimed all the cards. To avoid this, players could borrow cards from the bank at 10% interest (borrow ten cards, pay eleven). Partnerships could be formed and profits shared. Banks were very popular during this period and seen as the way to have a secure fortune as opposed to the unregulated stock and bond exchanges where greed and ruin was documented in the papers every day.
Office Boy Game - 1889: The country was in love with the novels of Horatio Alger in which young men rose from obscurity to conquer all, just by being good. This game attempted to adapt the Mansion of Happiness setup to cash in on the phenomenon by positing players as office boys who travel around a spiral track that uses hexagonal shaped spaces. Some spaces direct a piece to advance or go back. The first player to reach the center space becomes Head of the Firm and wins the game.
George and his friends liked the game so much that he courageously had 500 copies printed up and successfully peddled them to Massachusetts area retailers, eventually selling all but 12 copies, making a profit of $100.
Parker founded his game company, initially called the George S. Parker Company, in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts in 1883. When George's brother Charles joined the business in 1888, the company's name was changed to its more familiar form. In 1898 a third brother, Edward H. Parker, joined the company. For many years, George designed most of the games himself, and wrote all the rules. Many games were based on important events of the day: Klondike was based on the Alaskan gold rush, and War in Cuba was based on the impending Spanish-American War.
The game industry was growing, and the company was becoming very profitable. In 1906, Parker Brothers published the game Rook, their most successful card game to this day and it quickly became the best-selling game in the country. During the Great Depression, a time when many companies went out of business, Parker Brothers released a new board game called Monopoly. Although the company had originally rejected the game in 1934, they decided to publish it the next year. It was an instant success, and the company had difficulty keeping up with demand. The company continued to grow throughout the next several decades, producing such lasting games as Clue, Risk, and Sorry!.
Even after George Parker's death, the company remained family-owned until 1963, when General Mills purchased the company. After this, Parker Brothers produced the first Nerf ball, which became another major national hit. In the UK during the 1970s, Parker Bros. was the games division of Palitoy (also a General Mills company), and produced a variety of releases such as Escape From Colditz. The company began to produce electronic versions of their popular board games in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They also produced video games for various systems during the early 1980s, with home ports of many popular arcade games like Sega's Frogger and Gottlieb's Q-Bert.
In early 1983, Parker Brothers spent US$15 million establishing a book publishing branch; their first titles featured the American Greetings franchises, Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake. The branch published twelve titles by February 1984; sales of these books totalled 3.5 million units. Parker Brothers also operated a record label around the same time; one of its releases, based on Coleco's Cabbage Patch Kids and involving Tom and Stephen Chapin, was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in July 1984.
In 1985, General Mills merged the company with their subsidiary Kenner; this new company, Kenner Parker Toys Inc., was acquired by Tonka in 1987. Tonka, including Parker Brothers, was bought by Hasbro in 1991.
For more history on Parker Brother's: www.spotlightongames.com