|Known for||Board games|
The Milton Bradley Company is an American board game company established by Milton Bradley in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1860. In 1920, it absorbed the game production of McLoughlin Brothers, formerly the largest game manufacturer in the United States. Milton Bradley was taken over by Hasbro, Inc., in 1984. Now wholly owned by Hasbro, it is still retained as one of Hasbro's brands, similar to the manner in which Parker Brothers is one of Hasbro's brands.
In 1860, Milton Bradley moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, and set up the state’s first color lithography shop. His likeness of Abraham Lincoln sold very well until Lincoln grew his beard and rendered the likeness out-of-date. Struggling to find a new way to use his lithography machine, Bradley visited his friend George Tapley. Tapley challenged him to a game, most likely an old English game. Bradley conceived the idea of making a purely American game. He created “The Checkered Game of Life”, which had players move along a track from Infancy to Happy Old Age, in which the point was to avoid Ruin and reach Happy Old Age. Squares were labeled with moral positions from honor and bravery to disgrace and ruin. Players used a spinner instead of dice because of the negative association with gambling. By spring of 1861, over 45,000 copies of “The Checkered Game of Life” had been sold. Bradley became convinced board games were his company’s future.
Milton Bradley would continue to release hundreds of games until 1984 when they were bought out by Hasbro.
Milton Bradley and the Vectrex Edit
In March of 1983, Milton Bradley (MB) decided they wanted to further establish themselves in the video game business (as they had distributed the Microvision system and the Survival Run and Spitfire Attack video games for the Atari 2600) by purchasing GCE, thus acquiring the Vectrex. Milton Bradley, with it's already established games distribution channels, quickly expanded the Vectrex's distribution overseas.
By summer 1983, distribution had begun in Europe and Japan, but gaming giant Hasbro was looking to purchase Milton Bradley, which Hasbro's take on the matter was that video games were a fad. Milton Bradley then withdrew the Vectrex television ads. Not helping matters any further was that by the end of that year the great video game crash had occurred and the industry was feeling it's effects. Milton Bradley closed down GCE and decided to distribute the Vectrex itself, discounting it as much as possible (first $150 U. S., then $100). This plan lasted until March of that year when they discontinued sales in Europe and slowly phased out the U.S. the rest of that year, as a profit was never seen with the Vectrex, as over $30 million was lost on the machine. They then released all rights back to Smith Engineering.
The Vectrex did show up again a few years later when Abel & Associates converted the Vectrex into an "entertainment device" for use in malls and pizza parlors. For a quarter, the machine could perform the Luscher Color Test, in which the player would pick colors in the order that appealed to them. Then the machine would tell the player about their personality. Vectrex machines have also been found converted into heart-monitoring devices as well.
The Vectrex came close to coming back from the dead in 1988, when Smith Engineering considered resurrecting the Vectrex as a handheld unit. Milton Bradley thought the $100+ price tag of the unit would make it unsellable, so the idea was scrapped. Nintendo's Game Boy was released the following year and enjoyed huge commercial success, but the handheld Vectrex concept was never revived.
- Milton Bradley Company at wikipedia.org
- Information and images of MB board games at boardgamegeek.com
- Hasbro's site includes PDF files of many game rules for Hasbro and Milton Bradley games .pdf document
- More info about the Spectrum I Stress Tester at VGDB
This article was featured from May - June, 2012.