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The History of the Game of Life

As 1960 (and with it, Milton Bradley’s 100th anniversary) approached, the company hired independent inventor Reuben Klamer to come up with a game to commemorate the occasion. Klamer took the name “Life” from a game called The Checkered Game of Life, which was developed by Milton Bradley himself in 1860, but came up with an entirely new product. Klamer’s The Game of Life not only offered compelling gameplay, but also introduced two new elements to the board game world: the 3D board and the integrated plastic spinner. The original TV jingle claimed, “You will learn about life when you play The Game of Life!” The company also advertised on the radio, tapping popular radio and television personality Art Linkletter for his personal endorsement. The game quickly caught on and has since been updated several times. For example, in 1991, the game was updated to reward players good in-game behavior, like recycling and helping the homeless. Today, the game has been translated into at least 20 languages and there are even electronic and themed versions of the game available. And just as it was in the 1960s, The Game of Life remains a favorite for family game night today.

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