Monopoly, Nintendo, Windows and Rubik's Cube mark major anniversaries in 2010

By Margaret Webb Pressler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our lives are full of things we can't imagine not having. But think about it: Many older Americans were born before television was invented, or at least before it was common (ask your grandparents!), and your parents didn't have the Internet when they were kids. It's fun to look back at when stuff was invented, and 2010 is a good year to do that. This year marks the anniversary of some really well-known things in kids' lives, including these cool milestones.

75th anniversary

MONOPOLY: Handmade versions of a Monopoly-like game were around in the 1920s and '30s, but Charles Darrow is credited with selling a game he called Monopoly to Parker Brothers, which released it to the public in 1935. It became the best-selling game in America that year, and hundreds of millions of Monopoly games have been sold worldwide since then.

50th anniversary

BUBBLE WRAP: Bubble Wrap started as a mistake: Two engineers trying to create a new kind of plastic wallpaper ended up with sheets of plastic full of air bubbles. They weren't upset; they thought, "Aha!" In 1960, the pair founded a company called Sealed Air Corp. to manufacture their Bubble Wrap. Sealed Air is now a huge company making all kinds of products used for packaging, though millions of people like Bubble Wrap just because it's fun to pop!

XEROX PHOTOCOPIER: It is hard to imagine a time when you couldn't make a copy of something. But that's what life was like before 1960, when Xerox began selling the first copy machines that used plain paper. The copiers were an instant success, even though Xerox's first model would sometimes catch on fire when it got too hot! Until that problem was solved, the copier came with a miniature fire extinguisher.

"GREEN EGGS AND HAM": When Dr. Seuss wrote "The Cat in the Hat," the publisher bet the author $50 that he could not write a book using only 50 different words. ("The Cat in the Hat" had used 225.) But Dr. Seuss came through, and in 1960 released one of the most popular children's books of all time. "Green Eggs and Ham" uses exactly 50 different words -- and 49 of them have just one syllable. (The exception is "anywhere.")

30th anniversary

RUBIK'S CUBE: The world's top-selling puzzle game was invented by the Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik. It was originally called the Magic Cube, but when Rubik let an American company manufacture and release his invention in 1980, the name was changed to Rubik's Cube. Even people who can't solve it love to play with it. More than 350 million of the original Rubik's Cube have been sold worldwide!

25th anniversary

MICROSOFT WINDOWS: On early versions of personal computers, you had to type your commands on the keyboard. The display on the screen was just text. In 1985, Microsoft introduced the first Windows 1.0, which had a colorful, graphic display, used a mouse to point and click and let you keep several "windows" open on your screen at once. Windows is now the biggest computer-operating system in the world.

NINTENDO: In 1985, the NES, which stood for Nintendo Entertainment System, was about the size of two shoeboxes and played a great new game called Super Mario Bros. The first 50,000 NES consoles were available just in New York and didn't quite sell out. But by 1987, as more games became available, the system took off and millions were sold. At the time, people thought the original NES was really futuristic-looking!

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