Games for your mind

Famous board games stories: the invention of Scrabble

Posted on: October 29, 2009


scrabble one of the most popular games in US

Scrabble is probably one of the most famous board games ever invented with over 100 million sets sold in all the world.

Today everyone knows Scrabble and have played this linguistic clever game once at least, but few people know the real story of its invention.

In fact not everyone knows that Scrabble before becoming a famous board game was first a commercial flop.

Year 1931; The city of Poughkeepsie, upstate New York, was facing the worst years of the great depression. This was the situation when an architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, lost his job and decided to devote himself to his biggest passion: board games and words. Soon Butts decided to invent a board game to play with words and improve the linguistic skills of the player. Towards the end of 1931 Butts had already developed the basic idea of the board game, which was initially called Lexico.  This game was initially played without the board and players calculated their scores according to the length of the words formed. There were also reward points for words formed with less frequent letters (B, F, H, M, P, V, W, Y) and bonus points even higher for those containing unusual letters (J, K, Q, X, Z).

In 1933, Butts tied to register the trademark of is new board game but his request was denied. Similarly, when he proposed the new board game to the two top gaming company In United States, (Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley), he received only a polite refuse.


scrabble inventor Alfred Mosher Butts

Undeterred, Butts started a small scale production of his board game (nearly 200) and begun to sold them to his friends. But here ends the story of Lexico. It was not a commercial success and probably this board game would end up in the oblivion if wasn’t for an entrepreneur named James Brunot,  quite intrigued by this new clever game invention, who decided to market the product. Brunot made a deal with Butts for the distribution of this new linguistic board game: In exchange for permission to produce the game, Butts would receive a percentage for each board game sold.

Brunot had great entrepreneurial skills and soon realized that to make his new  business work he would have had to change enrich and expand  Mosher’s original idea:

Soon Brunot reorganized the board game box, the  prizes, simplify the too long original rules, and after some researches changed the name Lexico in Scrabble ®, registering the board game trademark in December 16, 1948. In that exact day the modern board game of Scrabble as we all know it nowadays was born.

In the aftermath of this new product concept, Scrabble begun a big commercial success with more than 6000 board games sold each week at the beginning of fifties. Soon it became clear that Brunot company could not meet the global high demand of Scrabble ®. So the games was licensed to Selchow and Righter, a leading American producer who had previously rejected Lexico board game offer.

Brunot ceded the rights to Scrabble ® in 1968 and the Spear company bought them for the whole world except the United States, Canada and Australia.  Rights of Scrabble board game are still divided in this way.

In 1987, after 53 years from the initial refusal of the game, the rights of Scrabble ® in the United States and Canada were purchased by Milton Bradley (MB now owned by Hasbro)

1991 was the year of the first World Championship in London, the second took place in the city of New York in 1993.

Today scrabble is still popular among adults and teenagers and there are many versions and variants like the Math Scrabble a game based on the original game, in which players must deal with numbers and make equations instead of words

Now days is even possible play Scrabble online with the flash version of this world wide famous board game.

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scrabble comics

scrabble comics

2 Responses to "Famous board games stories: the invention of Scrabble"

i can play scrabble all day long cause i love to play with words and rearrange them for higher points ~-*

Hi all everyone1, just joined up with . I’ve spent five days looking out in the net, right up until i’ve found this community! I think, I will certainly stay here for a long time. kool forum.

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