Everyone has heard and loved playing scrabble at least once in their life, but have you ever wondered where the gamer originated and who created it? You’d be surprised to know the origin behind the immensely loved board game. Some individuals play the game to increase their vocabulary, while others use unscramblex.com to win the games without being a professional on the online versions.
The Inventor behind the Invention
The idea of the board game Scrabble came to the mind of an unemployed New York-based architect named Alfred Mosher Butts during the Great Depression. The game was designed to provide an average American a past-time activity to get their heads away from the economic downfall.
Mr. Alfred spent a large chunk of his free time analyzing various board games and came to the conclusion that helped create Scrabble today. The decision focused on the reason as to why word games were not as popular as dice or card games, and the answer was simply, there was a lack of a points system. He took the idea of card games, dice games, and cross puzzles and amalgamated it into the popular game we know today.
Did you know that the idea for scrabble was not an overnight success; Butts was rejected multiple times by the patent office until he saw a glimpse of hope.
All the Way from Lexiko to Criss-Cross Words
In 1933, Butts came up with the idea of Lexiko, which was a game that involved unscrambling words by adding elements of anagramming. However, in 1938 after further analyzing various other popular games, he tweaked his version and named the new product criss-cross words.
To come up with the frequency of the words and common letter distribution, Butts used the help of famous newspaper distributors like the New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, and the New York Herald Tribune.
Scrabble is born!
Although credits for the current version of scrabble have been given to Alfred Mosher Butts, it would not be possible without the many contributions of James Brunot. James Brunot, a fellow New Yorker, enthusiastically approached Butts one day and asked to take over the mass-production of the game, which Butts agreed to without any hesitation.
Following their agreement to work in collaboration, Brunot came up with several additional rules, of which the most famous being the 50 points for using all 7 tiles in one go. He also came up with the iconic color scheme we know today consisting of the pastel tones (baby pink, bright red, indigo, and baby blue). By 1948, the suggested name ‘criss-cross words’ was abandoned and the term ‘Scrabble’ was adopted and trademarked. This marked the beginning of the game’s never-ending popularity to come.
The Production and Marketing
No new board, card, or dice game is successful simply because it is produced. One needs to be tactful in its marketing to sell the product to the masses. Brunot’s spent several years of his life devoted to the making and marketing of Scrabble. The humble beginnings of Scrabble started in an abandoned schoolhouse in the rural part of Connecticut.
By acquiring the help of a few of his friends, Brunot decided to take complete control of marketing and manufacturing the game independently in the rented building. They worked tirelessly every day to produce 12 games per hour. The initial production was challenging, much like the idea of getting the game accepted. In the beginning, the manufacturing was so slow that the team lost up to $450.
The game blew in popularity when the chairman and president of Macy’s, Jack Strauss, discovered the game while on vacation and decided to add a stock to his shelves. It is after the monumental event that manufacturing finally was taken over by a factory. By 1953, Burnot’s assembly line produced approximately 2,000 board games each week and hit close to 4 million sales in just 1954 alone.
Scrabble and Hasbro Unite
It was not long until the privately owned Scrabble was acquired by Hasbro. The acquisition can be credited to the widespread popularity of the game at the hand of Macy’s. The game became so popular word began to spread across borders. As its popularity grew, so did the need for manufacturing.
Eventually, there came a time where there was a large discrepancy between demand and supply. So in 1952, Brunot’s handed over the manufacturing to Selchow & Righter Company, who was now responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of the game across all USA and Canada. The company grew the game’s sales by a considerable margin and requested to purchase the trademark by 1972.
For the next few years, Selchow & Righter Company had exclusive rights to the game’s manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. However, by 1986 the company was sold to Coleco, which did not work out well for the new owners, and they soon had to file for bankruptcy.
During this time, Hasbro saw the opportunity to acquire the rights to the game and purchased the trademark in 1989. However, the ride was not smooth for Hasbro as they came to be a part of the scandal, which threatened to remove 200 words from the Scrabble dictionary that they considered too offensive. But thanks to public demands, the company compromised and came out with different versions to appease all parties.
Scrabble as We Know it today
Fortunately, Scrabble has not changed since the collaboration between Alfred Mosher Butts and James Brunot. The rules, color, and design of the game are still true to the original. Now scrabble comes in various shapes and sizes for convenience.
You can purchase a travel-sized version, deluxe version, standard version, or download the game on your smartphone. The game also now has its own dictionary containing a list of words that you can use. Additionally, the game’s popularity has allowed for multiple international level competitions to be held where players can win grand prizes.
All in all, the game has come a long way after encountering several challenges and rejections along the path. Now no common man requires an introduction to the game, and it is a board game enjoyed by many.