Milton Bradley

By | Nov 8, 2010

Milton Bradley is one of the big names associated with board games and with games in general. The man that started the company, Milton Bradley, was born on November 8, 1836.

Bradley began his career as a draftsman, although he struggled to get the education he needed. Drafting was a not to his suiting and while working as a draftsman taught himself the art of lithography and print-making.

He created created a board game that he called the Checkered Game of Life. This was the forerunner of the current game that was retooled and redesigned in 1960. Bradley’s Checkered Game of Life was essentially a checkerboard and the aim was to cross the board from infancy to old age by landing on the ‘good’ spots to collect points. The game sold 45,000 copies by the end of its first year.

The Civil War assisted in making his company profitable. Along with the Checkered Game if Life the company sold a game kit for soldiers that included chess, checkers, backgammon, dominoes and, Bradley’s own Checkered Game of Life.

He may be best known from the game company that bears his name, but invented many non-game inventions including the zoetrope and color wheel. He also was as a proponent for the German romantic philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel’s kindergarten system and beginning in 1869 published educational tracts and pamphlets on the virtues of Fröbel’s kindergarten system. Two magazines on the subject, Kindergarten News (later Kindergarten Review), and Work and Play were being published by his company.

Milton Bradley was married twice, first to Villona Eaton in 1860 and then to Ellen Thayer in 1869. Bradley and Ellen Thayer had two children, both girls, Alice L Bradley and Florence L Bradley. He died at the age of 74 in Springfield Massachusetts on May 30, 1911.


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