I bet there is nobody reading this who has not played a game of Scrabble in their lifetime! I love the game along with many of my family and friends.
But when did Scrabble come into being? Of course, I am going to be able to tell you after having done a little research.
It started when an American architect, Alfred Hosher Butts, created the game in 1938 from an earlier game know as ‘Lexiko’.
The two games had the same set of letter tiles and Lexiko was originally know as ‘Criss-Crosswords’ because of its similarity to cross-words puzzles.
Alfred H.Butts manufactured a few sets but he was not successful in getting any of the major game companies interested.
Alfred H. Butts – Criss-Crosswords
Then in 1948, James Brunot, a resident of Newtown, USA, and more importantly, a owner of one of the few Criss-Crosswords games in existence, bought the rights to manufacture the game from Alfred Butts, in exchange for granting him royalties on each game sold in the future.
James Brunot did not change much in the game apart from slightly re-arranging the ‘premium’ tiles and simplifying the rules of the game. And of course, he changed the name to what we all know and love…Scrabble…which means, ‘to scratch frantically’.
By 1949, James Brunot was manufacturing Scrabble, with the help of his family, in a converted schoolhouse in Dodgingtown, Newtown. Around 2,400 games were made but the family was losing money.
According to a very nice legend, the big break came for Scrabble in 1952, when the President of Macy’s, Jack Srauss, was on his vacation and played the game. He loved it and was surprised to learn his store did not stock Scrabble.
That quickly changed and he ordered that a large order be placed with James Brunot. Within a year, everyone had to have the game in their home.
Later in the same year, James Brunot found himself unable to cope with the demand for the game and so sold the rights to the Long Island based company, Selchow & Righter.
First Scrabble Edition
They had originally turned the game down when they had been approached in the past but were quite happy to now take on the game.
In it’s second year of manufacturing, they sold nearly 4 million games. In 1955, they started selling Scrabble to England and Australia, and as they say, the rest is history!
Now, of course, we do not have to have our opponent at the same table, we can play on line with distant friends, which is how I play most of my games at the moment, but when I am back in England for a visit, I love to play Scrabble with my sons…even if they win most games!