Allan B. Calhamer, Inventor of “Diplomacy,” Dies at 81
March 20, 2013 | The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and its members join in mourning the passing of Allan B. Calhamer, inventor of the board game Diplomacy, who died on February 25, 2013 in La Grange Park, Illinois.
According to his obituary, Mr. Calhamer was born on December 7, 1931 in Hinsdale, Ill., to an engineer and a schoolteacher. He attended Harvard University on a full scholarship; worked for the U.S. Foreign Service in Africa; conducted operations research at Sylvania's Applied Research Laboratory in Waltham, Mass.; and worked as a guard at the Statue of Liberty, before returning to Illinois and settling into a career as a mail-carrier until his retirement in the 1990s.
A game of strategy and alliances that puts players in control of the major powers of the pre-World War I era, Diplomacy was born of Mr. Calhamer’s fascination with exotic countries and ancient boundaries found in old geography books. After years of perfecting the game – and even testing a prototype while attending Harvard Law School – Mr. Calhamer published the first 500 copies of Diplomacy in 1959. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold, including online versions. The game is a revered classic alongside international hits like Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, Sorry! and Yahtzee, and was reportedly a favorite of John F. Kennedy and Henry Kissinger.
Over the years, Diplomacy has been published by Games Research, Avalon Hill, and Hasbro, as well as in several different languages in other nations.
Mr. Calhamer is survived by his wife, Hilda, and two daughters.