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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Who Says Games Have to Be Fun?

Alvin O. Hall—the Milton Bradley of Cincinnati, Ohio—was granted a patent on Jan. 25, 1881, for a game based on the 1880 census. It was to be played on two identical maps of the United States with blocks bearing the names of 48 census subdivisions ("thirty-eight States, nine territories, and one district"), and a like number of blocks bearing the number of inhabitants in each subdivision.

Either player, for instance No. 1, turns up a block [...] so that the name of the State can be seen, and then both guess at the population in 1880, and the one that has nearest approached the true figure takes the block and places it upon the corresponding State, and if he fails the block is returned to the rest; but if he guessed correctly the block remains on his map until all the blocks have been placed on the map, the player having the most blocks on his map being the winner.
It is not known whether this game was actually inflicted upon the American public.

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