When anyone hears the name "Milton Bradley," some of the things that come to mind include family game night, American family values and of course the warm memories of the many old Milton Bradley board games from childhood.
About Old Milton Bradley Board Games
The Milton Bradley Company is a perfect representation of the American Dream. Created from the skills and ideas of one man, this company is now the leading game producer under the flagship billion-dollar corporate giant, Hasbro Inc. Producing games since 1860, Milton Bradley remains a familiar and respected brand throughout the board game industry.
The History of Milton Bradley
The company name is also the name of the founder, Milton Bradley. Milton was born in 1836 in the small village of Vienna, Maine. Milton was an intelligent boy and had a creative personality. He trained in drafting and at age 19 landed a job with Wason Car Manufacturing in Springfield, Massachusetts. At age 24, he formed his own lithography company called the Milton Bradley Company.
After struggling to irk profit in the lithography business, Bradley was struck with inspiration while playing an old English board game with his best friend, George Tapley. Applying his lithography expertise, Bradley designed his very first board game called The Checkered Game of Life, where the players would use a central spin wheel in combination with making various moral decisions, in order to achieve either "Happy Old Age," or "Ruin." The moment of this invention was also the spark that ignited Bradley's future, and the rest of Milton Bradley's history played out as follows.
- Bradley presented his game concept to distributors based in New York City, who bought his entire stock.
- Milton Bradley received an overwhelming response from his "Game of Life," and in one year he produced 40,000 copies of his original game in order to satisfy all of the orders from across the country.
- During the Civil War, Bradley produced and sold small and inexpensive game kits for soldiers that included standard games like checkers and chess, as well as the Checkered Game of Life.
- From the 1870s and beyond, Milton Bradley produced new games ranging from traditional games, word games, money games, and even produced the first American made croquet set.
- Milton Bradley's love of children and the creative process led him to embark on a quest to transform early childhood development in the United States through producing creative learning materials for new kindergartens around the country.
In 1911, when Milton Bradley passed away, the legacy of entertaining and inspiring board games remained. In his own "checkered game of life," Milton Bradley assuredly made the right choices and made it to a "Happy Old Age" himself.
A Legacy of Board Games
After the death of Milton Bradley, the company almost succumbed to the threat of the Great Depression. However, once Springfield businessman James Shea became president in 1941, things turned around for Milton Bradley. Producing universal joints for fighter planes, gunstocks and game kits for solders, Shea elevated the company back into a profitable corporation throughout the 1940s. From the 40s through today, the following games completely redefined American "board games" during each generation.
Television and Concentration
While Milton Bradley produced some very successful games during the 1950s, such as CandyLand and Chutes and Ladders as well as the new version of Bradley's original game called "The Game of Life," the introduction of the television as a major form of family entertainment presented a major threat to the board game industry. Milton Bradley answered that challenge by introducing Concentration based on the popular game show. Concentration sold more copies within its first year than any other in board game history up to that point. During the 1960s, among anti-war protests and popular dance hits like "The Twist". Milton Bradley produced "Twister," where players played the game with not only game pieces but with their whole body. The use of the game on the popular Johnny Carson talk show sparked a national "Twister" frenzy, and the game became the best seller of the 1960s.
The Introduction of Video Games and Simon
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, electronic games represented a new threat to the game industry. This time, Milton Bradley was slow to respond to the threat, and the electronic game niche started to corner a larger segment of the overall game industry. Responding to this threat a little late, Milton Bradley developed "Simon" in 1977, a very simple electronic version of "Simon Says" that took the market by storm with record sales of the electronic game through the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Popular Old Milton Bradley Board Games
After Hasbro, Inc purchased Milton Bradley in 1984, the company ceased producing any new, successful original games. However, the game manufacturer remains one of the leaders within the industry due to the consistent strong sales of all of its classic games. The following vintage Milton Bradley board games represent the meat and potatoes of the company's current strength sales. Are there any that bring back wonderful childhood memories?
- Barrel of Monkeys - 1965
- Battleship (and Electronic Battleship) - 1931
- Candyland - 1949
- Connect Four - 1974
- The Checkered Game of Life (Game of Life) - 1860
- Jenga - 1986
- KerPlunk - 1967
- Mouse Trap - 1963
- Mystery Date - 1965
- Operation - 1965
- Perfection - 1973
- Scattergories - 1988
- Trouble - 1965
- Twister - 1966
- Yahtzee - 1956
- Simon - 1978
- Concentration - 1958
- Family Feud - 1977
- Win, Lose or Draw - 1987
Where to Buy
If you walk into a toy store or browse through an educational supply catalog, it's impossible not to find a Milton Bradley product. Whether you check Amazon or ebay, you're sure to find a tremendous resource for purchasing old Milton Bradley board games.