".....and 50 years ago, noone played the modern."
Not quite correct.
I cannot be bothered firing up my megadatabase with
567,894,546,765,567,743,999,832,001 games on it,
(it takes four days to load)
but Mieses played it in the 1890's.
I know because I used it as one of my stock demo board games.
White played c3 and then Na3, (it never moved again),an easy game
to explain the object being to show how simple chess can be and not
scare your class witless by showing them for example a typical Tal game.
You want them to think 'Hey I could do that!'
Find the game and look at it - I think it's v Schiffers?
After Ne7 (prepping f5) you will find you would have played the moves
that Mieses played.
It ends with Mieses threatening a Q sac to mate.
A good player to play along with is Mieses you can usually see what
he up to and he adds some lovely touches to his games.
Paulsen played the Modern a few times in the mid 1800's.
What was the question again?
White: 1.e4 (I'll start on 1.d4 when I grow up).
As Black Pirc/Modern/KID/Benoni/Grunfeld or anything that has
the word Gambit in it.