Inventors: Gordon Barlow and Burt Meyer
Companies: Ideal, Milton Bradley
Object of the game: Players move around the board with mouse-shaped pieces. The spaces they land on include instructions they must follow to build a three-dimensional mouse trap. Once the trap is completed, players try to capture their opponents' mice. The game's catchphrase sums it up: "It's fun to build this comical wonder, but woe to the mouse who gets caught under."
History: Cartoonist Rube Goldberg became famous in the 1920s for his humorous drawings that depicted overly complex devices performing the simplest tasks. In the early 1960s, game creator Marvin Glass decided to create a Rube Goldberg–inspired game. His company Marvin Glass & Associates came up with Mouse Trap, one of the first three-dimensional board games. They took their new game to Milton Bradley, but the company didn’t want it. Rival game company Ideal quickly bought it and debuted it at the 1963 Toy Fair. By the end of the first year, the company reportedly had sold 1.2 million copies.
Updated versions: A modified version in 1984 allowed players to strategically trap their opponents rather than rely on luck. The game was briefly adapted into a United Kingdom game show in the 1980s, and today it can also be played as a video game.
Trivia: Marvin Glass refused to pay 80-year-old Rube Goldberg royalties for the game even though some of the pieces were identical in style to Goldberg's cartoons. Goldberg subsequently licensed his cartoons to a model company called Multiple Products, Inc.