Alan Turing's hand-drawn Monopoly Board


27 Responses to “Alan Turing's hand-drawn Monopoly Board”

  1. amanicdroid says:

    The silver story is also in Janna Levin’s “A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines”. Turing put the silver bars in a baby carriage and took it into nearby woods. Neighbors called the police thinking he had committed infanticide. The book is fiction based on fact so I’m not sure which details are accurate.

  2. Blaine says:

    What’s up with the diagonal bisection!?

    • What’s up with the diagonal bisection!?

      Its marked FREE DECISION so I suppose if you land on Go, you get a choice which way you want to go. I wish I could get close enough to read all the words.

      This is great. I wonder if Neal Stephenson knew about it when he wrote Cryptonomicon. Games are so important to crypto, as he noted.

  3. Bernhard Kubicek says:

    The bisection is only for entities who passed the Turing test !

  4. on the back side is his sketch of angry birds

  5. nosehat says:

    Of all the games someone would choose recreate from scratch, Monopoly wouldn’t be my first guess.  It depends on way too much arbitrary information–all those tables of different amounts of rent for different properties with different numbers of houses.  Recreating all of that, instead of something like a chess or backgammon or go board, just seems … odd.  But then again, I’m not Alan Turing.

    • petershultz says:

      Monopoly, like a lot of games, was originally distributed as a set of rules. I’m sure Turing et al had the rules and look up tables for property values, they just lacked a board.

  6. plingboot says:

    Why are you assuming this is the only game they played? He may well have created other boards that may have been lost or just not exhibited. More likely they probably had actual chess and backgammon boards as well as packs of cards.

  7. Mark Hope says:

    Anyone checked the names of the properties?  They are all different from the standard UK game that I started playing in the ’60s, eg Mayfair is called Mills Rd, Whitechapel is called King Street.  And there are more properties down each side than the normal game…

  8. Ashley Yakeley says:

    Castle Street? Mill Lane? King Street?

    Sounds like Cambridge to me.

  9. Ashley Yakeley says:

    Garret Hostel Lane up on the right. It can’t be anywhere else.

  10. zdislaw says:

    “Today, though, I want to talk about the pop-cultural root of all evil and aggression, which is not Scattergories, not Grand Theft Auto, not the music of The Screwed Up Click. It is the insidious, grudge-fueling, wrath-provoking waste of four hours that is the Parker Brothers classic Monopoly. The evil is right there in the title! Would you play a game called Anti-Trust? In which your goal was to drive up the price of gas and force everyone to take public transit? I say ye nay. We as a people have agreed for some insane reason to sit down with our families and try to drive them out of their homes. The republic is built on the sacred bond between citizen and property, and this game is about taking it away! How un-American is that? I mean, you might as well drive that little pewter car over the little pewter dog!”—Trey Graham, NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour

  11. I agree. That’s why I always cheat when I play Monopoly. I also try to steal properties when people go to the bathroom and later, I consider it a victory if I can charge them rent on their own property. Otherwise I’m a pretty nice person.

    • penguinchris says:

      Agreed – though I haven’t played in ages and I don’t think I’ve ever played a truly great game of monopoly, the potential is huge.

      The problem is when people don’t realize you can be creative with the rules. For the game to be fun you have to act like a real-life real estate monopolist – creative, ruthless, and without scruples. And, of course, people don’t take kindly to being swindled, even just in a game. But with a group of players who are all on the same page, as I said it has huge potential. Same as Risk (my preference) and other complicated board games.

  12. Guest says:

    Alan Turing is my personal hero. Cryptonomicon is one, if not the, favorite books of mine. I have spent hours in the past enjoying the game of Monopoly. This post is my Trifecta.

  13. Tom Ward says:

    Of the ones I can pull out  there’s:

    King’s St, Newnham Rd, St John’s St, Mill Lane, Castle St, Hills Rd, Silver St, Barton Rd, Trinity Street, Bene’t Street, Garret Hostel Lane, Northampton St, Market St, Corn Exchange St, Station, King’s Parade, Senate House Passage, Trumptington St, Queen’s Road, Grange Rd, Bridge St, Jesus Lane.

    Got to be Cambridge! 

  14. davegroff says:

    I’d love to know how they used the roman numerals on the board. Some kind of math meta-game?

  15. Tommy Timefishblue says:

    You wouldn’t draw a car.

  16. LikesTurtles says:

    Monopoly isn’t a bad game if you don’t make the mistake of placing all fines, fees, etc in Free Parking. We play with a $250 bonus for landing on the space but that’s it.  When you get thousands of dollars each time you land on it, the game goes on and on becoming a contest of who can land on Free Parking the most.

    The crossboard properties is an interesting addition.  Think I’ve seen that once before in an old varient of Monopoly so perhaps Mr. Turing was using the design he saw before.

  17. Roy Trumbull says:

    In the early computer used to keep up with Enigma, there were acoustic delay lines. Purchasing wrote out a detailed spec for bid on the water alcohol mix used. Turing used gin right out of the bottle.

  18. GyroMagician says:

    Maybe AT liked the challenge of trying to make Monopoly interesting? That would certainly take a genius.

  19. Andrew Singleton says:

    Dagnabbit. Now I wanna come up with my own variation based on the crossboard concept (maybe add a second cross from free parking. Hard to say though.

  20. May I confess to being the perpetrator of said ‘board’, which I drew on a sheet of paper back in the 1950s when I was in my early teens and lacked the money to buy a proper set.  My brother and I played on it, and when Alan asked if he could join us in a game we played a threesome (Alan lost).  Later the board fell into disuse and I lost track of it about 50 years ago, but it recently turned up (together with the rules), see   The Roman numerals indicated property prices.  I forget why I added the diagonal.

    • nosehat says:

      Thanks so much for dropping in, and for the back story!

      (On a side note to Boing Boing staff:  I have just become a big fan of the new Boing Boing comment system that lets people post comments from other logins!)

    • Andrew Singleton says:

      Always good when people that are part of what the post is about come in to comment.

      Thank you Sir for sharing.

  21. ||||| Alaska Jack says:

    Oh, Boing Boing, will you never cease to amuse and disgust me?

    Just a thought — perhaps Churchill’s “cold war paranoia” was due to the fact that British counter-intelligence and foreign affairs were RIDDLED WITH SOVIET SPIES?


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