Born in Vienna, Maine, to craftsman Ottis Bradley and Fannie Lyford on November 8, 1836, Milton Bradley attended high school in the industrial mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts. Upon completing his secondary education, Bradley pursued technical training as a draftsman at the Lawrence Scientific School, but could not obtain sufficient funding to complete the two-year course. After a two-year spell in Hartford, Connecticut with his parents, Bradley returned to Massachusetts, settling in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1856. Beginning an association with technological and intellectual innovation that would recur throughout his life, Milton Bradley then began work with the Wason Car-Manufacturing Company, drafting plans for railroad cars. After briefly leaving Wason to pursue independent drafting for patent seekers, Bradley rejoined the company and remained until 1860. In search of a lucrative alternative project in which to employ his drafting skills, Bradley found inspiration from an imported board game given to him by a friend. Concluding that he could produce and market a similar game to American consumers, Milton Bradley released The Checkered Game of Life in the winter of 1860. The game proved an instant success with the public. Bradley personally sold his first run of several hundred copies in one two-day period in New York; by 1861, consumers had bought over 45,000 copies. The Checkered Game of Life followed a structure similar to its American and British predecessors, with players spinning a teetotum to advance to corresponding squares. The squares each represented a social virtue or vice, with the former earning a player points and the latter retarding his progress. The player who first accumulated one hundred points won the game. While the structure of play used in The Checkered Game of Life differed little from previous board games, Bradley’s game embraced a radically different concept of success. Earlier children’s games, such as the popular Mansion of Happiness developed in Puritan Massachusetts, were concerned entirely with providing an attractive venue from which to promote moral virtue. Bradley preferred to define success in secular business terms consistent with America’s emerging focus on “the causal relationship between character and wealth.” This approach, which depicted life as a quest for accomplishment in which personal virtues provided a means to an end rather than a point of focus, complemented America’s burgeoning fascination with obtaining wealth in the years following the Civil War. Though The Checkered Game of Life and its several successive variations accounted for Milton Bradley’s financial success, board games did not constitute his primary focus in life. With his pecuniary future secure, Bradley turned his attention to a series of progressive scientific and educational causes. Having met Edward Wiebe, an early American proponent of the kindergarten movement, in 1869, Bradley began to explore the ideas of the German romantic philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. Fröbel challenged prevalent notions for educating children, which emphasized recitation, rote memorization, and the teaching of factual information from a child’s earliest schooling. Believing that these practices – which attempted to instill an adult mentality in children – ran contrary to both effective teaching and a child’s natural impulses, Fröbel suggested a pattern of education that focused on the child’s vantage point. Fröbel’s theory stressed stimulation of aesthetic and sensory perception, kept lessons brief, presented them in simple terms suitable for a child’s consumption, and incorporated instinctual preferences for play and spontaneity. Enthralled with Fröbel’s ideas, Milton Bradley made distinct contributions to bringing them to prominence with the American public. Beginning in 1869, Bradley published educational tracts and pamphlets on the virtues of Fröbel’s kindergarten system. His company produced two magazines on the subject, Kindergarten News (later Kindergarten Review), and Work and Play. Though neither produced a profit, compelling Bradley’s business partners to withdraw their support, Bradley persevered, publishing the magazines until the end of his life.  He died May 30, 1911 in Springfield. Courtesy of Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia