The Checkered Game of Life, published in 1860 by Milton Bradley (the company), was designed by Milton Bradley (the man).
Why The Checkered Game of Life is Part of the Games Timeline:
The Checkered Game of Life was the first game published by Milton Bradley, a company which published hundreds of games through the years.
Here are the other games I believe are the most culturally and historically significant games published since 1800.
More About The Checkered Game of Life:
The is story as told at Hasbro's web site (Hasbro now owns Milton Bradley): "In 1860, Mr. Milton Bradley was a successful lithographer whose major product was a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. When Mr. Lincoln grew his trademark beard, Bradley's clean-shaven portrait was no longer popular. Out of desperation, Mr. Bradley printed up several copies of a game he'd invented called The Checkered Game of Life. Its immediate popularity put Milton Bradley in the game business."
In 1960, Milton Bradley commissioned a 100-year anniversary tribute game, simply titled The Game of Life. It was designed by Reuben Klamer along with a co-inventor. The Game of Life is still in print today, and numerous special editions have also been published.