It might be a shock to you to find out that some of your beloved games and toys are actually older than you think. We made a list of 10 classic toys and games that are older than you think. Enjoy.
1. Roller Skates
A lot of people associate roller skates with the ‘70s. To be fair, these were the years of the roller disco, which was an odd sport that tried to combine roller skates with disco music.
But the fact is that roller skates were actually invented in the 1770s by John Joseph Merlin. His invention impressed him in such a way that he decided to reveal it in the most over the top way possible: he presented the skates at a high society ball, skating around the hall while playing a violin. There is no concrete evidence regarding the original design of his roller skates but what we do know is that they didn’t feature breaks and his exhibition ended with Merlin skating into one of the minors present at the ball.
2. Remote Control Toys
It’s believed that the first remote control toys were manufactured in the ‘60s, after Elettronica Giocattoli, an Italian toy company produced the first toy remote control car in the year 1966.
But the fact is that the first such toy was invented in the 1890s by Nikola Tesla. Tesla revealed his remote control boat at the Electrical Exhibition in Madison Square Garden in 1898. His toy featured a propeller, rudders and functioning lights.
The current game of paintball which everybody loves was invented in the ’70s by Bill Gurnsey and Charles Gaines. These two friends found another, more fun and painful way to use pain-pellet guns. Until then, these kinds of guns were only used by farmers to mark their livestock.
However, in the 1900s there was another form of paintball that was called wax dueling. This was a sport where men would duel by using pistols that fired bullets made of wax. They were required to wear a special armor in order to protect themselves from injuries. An old issue of Pittsburgh Press from 1908 described how one of the competitors had “the soft piece of flesh connecting the forefinger and thumb” shot out on his right hand. The article also warned spectators of the risk of being blinded by ricocheting bullets. Despite this, the sport still became very popular and even appeared in the Olympic Games of 1908 in London.
4. Cap Guns
You may thing that these kinds of toy guns were invented in the 1940’s or ‘50s because that was the age of cowboy and western movies.
But the truth is that cap guns predate even the American Civil War. J & E Stevens Company, a toy producer first launched in 1859 a fire cracker gun that was very similar to the one we have today. Only some years later, after the company saw great success with this toy, it began the production of novelty guns. One of those guns was in the shape of a sea serpent and another in the shape of a monkey.
5. Duck Hunt
Many people believe that Duck Hunt is one of the greatest games ever made (and for good reason). The game was released in 1984 and the goal was to shoot ducks that appeared on the TV screen. The players had to point a light gun at the screen and shoot any ducks on sight.
But this wasn’t the first time people had the chance to shoot ducks with imitation guns for the sole purpose of entertainment. In 1936, an arcade game called Ray-O-Lite Rifle allowed people to use a light gun to shoot wooden ducks in a given time. In order for the game to be more difficult, the ducks also moved around on a conveyor belt in the shooting gallery. The manufacturers of the game, Seeburg, also made other varieties where the targets were chickens and bears. In fact, they also manufactured one in 1942 where the target was Adolf Hitler.
Monopoly, in case you don’t already know this, is a fun, addictive capitalistic game that has been part of many family activities ever since 1934.
However, Monopoly was inspired by another board game from 1904 called The Landlord’s Game. The game was created by Elizabeth Magie and was made to teach people how the property owners in those times made their fortunes on the backs of their tenants, many of which were very poor. Magie hoped that those who played the game would realize how unfair the system is and would protect themselves later in their lives.
Magie sold her patent in 1934 to the Parkers Brothers who abandoned her goals. The company bought the rights to mass produce Monopoly board games.
7. Snakes and Ladders
Snakes and Ladders is also called Chutes and Ladders, if you’re not quite familiar with the name of this popular board game.
However, this game has existed ever since the 16th century. It originated in India and the objectives were pretty much the same. You had to reach the end avoiding the snakes and climbing on the ladders. But in the old version, the ladders symbolized virtues of asceticism, knowledge, generosity, reliability and faith and the snakes symbolized the vices like lust, murder, pride, greed, rage, theft and vanity. The game was intended to teach people that to be able to reach salvation they must perform acts of virtue in their lives. This is the reason why there are less ladders (virtues) on the board game than snakes (sins). The creators of this board game wanted to show that a virtuous life was a lot harder to reach and maintain than a sinful one.
8. Pen-and-Paper RPGs
If you were to name the first pen-and-paper RPG you would undoubtedly say “Dungeons & Dragons”, which was created in 1974 by Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax.
But the truth is that Kriegsspeil was the first such game. The game, also known as “Instructions for the Representation of Tactical Maneuvers under the Guise of a Wargame”, was invented in 1812 and it was used to teach military tactics to training officers by the Prussian Army. Players had to compete on a gridded game board much like the one from Dungeons & Dragons. The board was filled with numerous removable tiles that represented landscapes like hills and rivers to allow the creation of practically unlimited types of battlefields. The game pieces represented entire formations, like divisions and companies. The game master oversaw the game and enforced the rules, while making sure that the players stuck to the scenarios.
9. The Yo-Yo
This is one of the most iconic toys of the 20th century. Pedro Flores was working in a Santa Barbara hotel as a bellhop when he got the inspiration to mass market a toy from the Philippines, his homeland. In 1928 he opened the Yo-Yo Manufacturing Company and produced around 100,000 toys before he sold the company to Donald Duncan Yo-Yo Company.
But if you are a fan of Ancient Greek anthology you’ll know that this toy has been present for a lot longer than most people know. Archaeologists found the remains of ancient yo-yos in dig sites from the Mediterranean made out of terracotta and bronze. One such yo-yo is present at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and it dates to around 460 B.C.
10. The Sims
Released in 2000, The Sims is a game where you have to personalize and take care of a character throughout its life.
But these were the same objectives of the video game called Little Computer People released in 1985. In this game, players had the ability to command their characters and customize their houses, much like in The Sims. You also got to communicate with them directly. For example, you could command your character to play a particular song on the piano, send you messages or play board games with you.
So there you have it. This was our list of 10 classic toys and games that are older than you think.