The History of Hi-Lo


Of course the ancestor of Monopoly, “The Landlord’s Game,” was intended to be a didactic tool as well. It was supposed to teach the tenets of Georgism and the idea that for capitalism most people end up in a long, slow, and un-fun slog into bankruptcy…Which is why Monopoly is such a poor game.


One of my favorite zeitgeist-capturing games was put out in the early 60s by a little indie outfit called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., or 3M to its friends.

It was called Acquire!, exclamation point in original. You play a hotel tycoon who starts with a very large amount of money and finishes the game with a gargantuan amount of money, even if you lose.

It actually works very well as a game, too, so props to them for that. It was good enough to get re-issued in a more colorful, family-oriented skin later on. But the real fun is in the no-nonsense plastic chips and paper money of the original version. You can just see a bunch of junior 3M execs in shirtsleeves, sitting down at the end of the day to frown at this board for an hour or two and perhaps divine some business acumen from it.

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So safety diesel lift trucks had no starters? That does seem like a good safety feature in situations where sparks are very bad. But how did they (or, perhaps, how do they) start them?

3M made several games:

Bookshelf Games

The thing is–if you already own the printing equipment, you could produce “professional looking games” at a lower cost than companies that merely have good game designs.

In 1962 Avalon Hill was sold to Monarch Services, a company owned by Eric Dott (as a way of repaying debts incurred by Roberts to Dott). Avalon Hill became then a subsidiary of a new Monarch Services division, Monarch Avalon Printing, although the ‘Avalon Hill’ brand and logo continued to be used in the products’ boxes and manuals. Monarch managed Avalon Hill for the next 36 years.

wikipedia article on avalon hill


Funny you should mention it. I am majorly into forklifts. In fact, I built a little forklift to move boxes of Klein bottles around the crawlspace under my house. There’s probably a youtube video of it.

I built the frame from plywood; the tilt mechanism is a recycled electric window lift from an old Pontiac. The up-down motor is a right-angle electric drill that I got at a yardsale for $5, and the main drive system are Parallax wheels using windshield-wiper motors. Runs on a 12 volt battery with a R/C hand control. Four video cameras let me pick up a box way under the house. (I made a line-following controller using an Arduino, but it wasn’t necessary)

With a 30 inch high crawlspace, this has saved my back many times.



I tried it with some friends. After losing the opening “rock-paper-scissors” to determine who got to be the forklift, I had to be a box. A good time was had by all, especially after the forklift operator was fired for intoxication. For a boardgame, it’s surprisingly emotional. I still tear up when I think about having to erase the number in the “No accidents in __ days” sign after my character fell of the shelf and shattered a supervisor’s femur.


I had that game! I dunno about business acumen, but it was pretty fun for a few weeks.

IIRC, diesel (fumes/vapour) can be made to detonate by increasing the atmospheric pressure. In fact, IIRC diesel engines generally don’t have spark plugs. Given that, the trick then becomes “how do I spin the crank to increase the pressure in the cylinders so that the engine will start, but without using an electic motor to do it?” My guess is either a hydraulic motor, or perhaps a hand crank.

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I believe compressed air tanks are the current state of the art. The air compressor to refill the bottle runs off engine once it starts. Not sure if that’s what they did in 1968.

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there are plenty of Allis-Chalmers collectors out there

What a strange world we live in.

Perhaps a centrifugal starter? That was my first guess.

You haven’t met tractor people. Some favor red, some green, and others yet Minneapolis-Moline. They’re like gearheads, just older, whiter and rural Midwest/Plains as they come.

We used to play a board game called Polyconomy in Australia in the early 80’s. It was all share trading and politics. My cousin loved it and now he makes loads as a futures trader.

There is an amazingly large cohort of people (hundreds!) who have converted ancient Allis-Chalmers tractors to plug-in electric for zero tailpipe-emissions farming.

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It seems the US Army also got into the dull board game business. My unit has a few sets of The Winning Edge, a field artillery game…
The Winning Edge

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