William and Stephen B Ives via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
William and Stephen B Ives via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

15 Centuries-Old Board Games

William and Stephen B Ives via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
William and Stephen B Ives via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Good family fun isn’t a new invention. Board games have been around since antiquity—the oldest evidence of the Egyptian game Senet dates back 5000 years. Here are 15 games people used to play before the 20th century:


In this 1790 game, players moved through different stages of life, from infancy onward. Players moved backward or forward on the game board according to the moral character of the square they landed on. Landing on the “drunkard” square sent a player back, while landing on “The Assiduous Youth” sent a player forward. Landing on a career like “The Romance Writer” or “The Dramatist,” per 18th century social mores, sent players backward.


Image Credit: Bodleian Libraries

This 1860 children’s game was played with a teetotum, a spinning top, and involved moving birds around numbered spaces. Alternative titles included “Kindness to dumb animals,” “Wrong and the right,” and “Reading to the sick.” 


Image Credit: William and Stephen B Ives via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In the early 1800s, this was the most popular board game in Britain. It centered around ideas of vice and virtue, as players attempted to reach the “mansion,” a heavenly reward for the pious. Think of it as Chutes and Ladders meets Sunday school. 


Image Credit: Bodleian Libraries

First published in 1815, players raced across European cities from Oporto, Portugal to London by spinning a teetotum. Per the rule book, landing on a capital city garnered a player a bonus spin, and the first one to land exactly on the London square won the game. 


Image Credit: Devidasa of Nurpur via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Chaupar, a gambling board game, has been played in India for millennia and was especially popular in royal courts. Often using a cross-shaped cloth board, it’s played with three dice and 16 pieces. The modern game Parcheesi is an adaptation of a variant of chaupar called pachisi. 


Image Credit: Bodleian Libraries

In this 1835 board game, players spun a “circle of chance” that dictated whether they moved forward, backward, left, or right, journeying through a village and up to a castle on a hill, encountering impassible waterways, robberies, and other obstacles on the way. 


Image Credit: Tamago915 via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

In Tori Shogi, a Japanese variant of chess, all the pieces are types of birds, including phoenixes, cranes, and swallows. The game was invented in 1799 [PDF]. 


Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This two-player game was invented in the 1880s by an American surgeon who named it after an ancient Greek word for “jump.” Halma declined in popularity in the 1900s with the introduction of Chinese checkers, a game with similar rules that could accommodate more players.


Image Credit: Bodleian Libraries

The rulebook for this whimsical zoo game hasn’t survived, but it seems to have involved numbered animals, and it came with great artwork. Maybe it was a paint-by-numbers sort of thing? 


This game, whose name in English means “assault,” appeared in Germany as early as 1803. One corner of the board was the fortress, and it had to be defended by one of the players against attack from the other. Most of the pieces were designated foot soldiers, while just two pieces were officers that could move more freely across the board. The goal was to capture the opponent’s pieces and win the battle. 



Image Credit: ItsLassieTime via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The McLoughlin Brothers publishing house released this game in 1886. By moving pieces around a board, players competed to see who would become the president of a telegraph company. 


Image Credit: Bodleian Libraries

This two-person game was designed to teach children the geography of England, Scotland, and Wales. Players placed locomotives at a certain start point and rolled dice to determine how far they traveled.


Image Credit: Victoria & Albert Museum, bought out of the funds of the Bryan Bequest

A French board game that roughly translates to “new game of marriage” (though that last word also means hymen), its artwork appears on this porcelain tray from around 1725. The squares map the trajectory of a romantic relationship, with references to Ovid, the Odyssey, and other classical texts. 


Image Credit: Alfonso X of Castile via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The game of astronomical tables—or seven-sided backgammon—was included in the Book of Games, an encyclopedia commissioned by Alfonso X of Spain in the 13th century. The seven sides were for the seven planets then known to astronomers (the moon and the sun were included, but Uranus and Neptune were not). The medieval book called the game “very noble and very strenuous and very elegant, and of great intellect for the wise,” according to one translation


Image Credit: George Mason University via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Board game legend Milton Bradley debuted the Checkered Game of Life during the Civil War. The game begins with infancy and ends with old age, with stops for "crime," "industry," "politics,” and “Cupid” along the way. Bradley's first game eventually morphed into the Life board game we play today.

Apple Wants to Patent a Keyboard You’re Allowed to Spill Coffee On

In the future, eating and drinking near your computer keyboard might not be such a dangerous game. On March 8, Apple filed a patent application for a keyboard designed to prevent liquids, crumbs, dust, and other “contaminants” from getting inside, Dezeen reports.

Apple has previously filed several patents—including one announced on March 15—surrounding the idea of a keyless keyboard that would work more like a trackpad or a touchscreen, using force-sensitive technology instead of mechanical keys. The new anti-crumb keyboard patent that Apple filed, however, doesn't get into the specifics of how the anti-contamination keyboard would work. It isn’t a patent for a specific product the company is going to debut anytime soon, necessarily, but a patent for a future product the company hopes to develop. So it’s hard to say how this extra-clean keyboard might work—possibly because Apple hasn’t fully figured that out yet. It’s just trying to lay down the legal groundwork for it.

Here’s how the patent describes the techniques the company might use in an anti-contaminant keyboard:

"These mechanisms may include membranes or gaskets that block contaminant ingress, structures such as brushes, wipers, or flaps that block gaps around key caps; funnels, skirts, bands, or other guard structures coupled to key caps that block contaminant ingress into and/or direct containments away from areas under the key caps; bellows that blast contaminants with forced gas out from around the key caps, into cavities in a substrate of the keyboard, and so on; and/or various active or passive mechanisms that drive containments away from the keyboard and/or prevent and/or alleviate containment ingress into and/or through the keyboard."

Thanks to a change in copyright law in 2011, the U.S. now gives ownership of an idea to the person who first files for a patent, not the person with the first working prototype. Apple is especially dogged about applying for patents, filing plenty of patents each year that never amount to much.

Still, they do reveal what the company is focusing on, like foldable phones (the subject of multiple patents in recent years) and even pizza boxes for its corporate cafeteria. Filing a lot of patents allows companies like Apple to claim the rights to intellectual property for technology the company is working on, even when there's no specific invention yet.

As The New York Times explained in 2012, “patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology,” rather than a specific approach. (This allows brands to sue competitors if they come out with something similar, as Apple has done with Samsung, HTC, and other companies over designs the company views as ripping off iPhone technology.)

That means it could be a while before we see a coffee-proof keyboard from Apple, if the company comes out with one at all. But we can dream.

[h/t Dezeen]

Pop Chart Lab
150 Northeast Lighthouses in One Illustrated Poster
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Some of the world's most beautiful and historic lighthouses can be found in the American Northeast. Now, Pop Chart Lab is releasing an illustrated poster highlighting 150 of the historic beacons dotting the region's coastline.

The 24-inch-by-36-inch print, titled "Lighthouses of the Northeast," covers U.S. lighthouses from the northern tip of Maine to the Delaware Bay. Categorized by state, the chart features a diverse array of lighthouse designs, like the dual towers at Navesink Twin Lights in New Jersey and the distinctive red-and-white stripes of the West Quoddy Head Light in Maine.

Framed poster of lighthouses.
Pop Chart Lab

Each illustration includes the lighthouse name and the year it was first lit, with the oldest lighthouses dating back to the 1700s. There's also a map in the upper-left corner showing the location of each landmark on the northeast coast.

Chart of lighthouses.
Pop Chart Lab

The poster is now available to preorder for $37, with shipping set to start March 21. After memorizing every site on the chart, you can get to work exploring many of the other unique lighthouses the rest of the world has to offer.


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