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A brief history of Scrabble

Does the term ‘scrabble’ ring any bells inside your mind? If not, then your childhood, even for that matter your adulthood isn’t as fun as mine. In 1938, this highly played and the most enjoyed word game was developed by Alfred Mosher Butts as a modification to his previously developed word game ‘Lexiko’. The word game Scrabble word finder is a board and tile game in which two or four parties compete with each other by forming words on a lettered board of 225 square grids. The tactics with which this game is played is as similar to the one used in the crossword puzzle.


Mr. Alfred Mosher Butts in his study room;

The idea of creating such a spelling oriented game was conceived during the times of the Great Depression. Mr Butts thought of developing Scrabble to divert the economic minds

away from the bleak of economic instability in the United States. However, the reach of Scrabble was still far from the hands of the American citizens who were busy dealing with the post effects of World War 2. Initially, Mr Butts could not find an appropriate name for his word game, thus, named the game ‘it’ and then switching over to names like ‘Lexiko’ and Criss-cross. After many years of rigorous attempts of finding a suitable sponsor, he tried tinkering and switching with the game’s method of operations. However, when his patent plea got rejected, not once but twice, he lost his zeal to promote the game any further.


In 1948, James Brunot, one of the residents of Newtown, Connecticut, who at the time owned the manufacturing rights of several board games in the United States contacted Alfred Mosher Butts and decided to purchase the rights of manufacture of Criss-Crosswords (Scrabble). James Brunot liked Mr Butts’ imagination of forming a letter game that is the combination of three educational games such as board games, number games like dice, and letter games such as crossword puzzles. Without any further ado, Mr Brunot agreed to pay Mosher the royalty on his creation of every unit sold in the market. James was an enthusiastic marketer who did his very best in promoting the overall structure of the entire idea. He played with the color combinations such as pastel pink, baby indigo, bright red, and many more to make the game more appealing and catchy to the eyes. The foremost alternation that occurred was in its name. From being called ‘It’ and ‘Criss Crosswords’, it was officially introduced as “Scrabble” in the market.

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Mr. James Brunot in a meeting;

The term scrabble means ‘to scratch frantically’. With this new definition and will power, James and his family set up the first-ever manufacturing unit of Scrabble in the abandoned schoolhouse in Connecticut. This was the place where the initial production of Scrabble started. Here, every hour twelve units of the game were produced. However, the beginning was not as fruitful as it was supposed to be and the entire team lost a ton of money in the whole vocation. But destiny has its own pace, thereby, Scrabble got its big break in 1952 when the chairman of Macy’s Mr. Jack Straus played the game for the first time. He immediately started shelving his stocks with the units of the game. That year, the sales plummeted so much so that James’ manufacturing unit was churning out 2,000 units of the set per week.

This vicissitude of the whole venture was not well received by James Brunot. Ultimately, in order to meet the demand and supply curve, he decided to sell the manufacturing rights to Selchow and Righter who, like many others previously rejected the game. The creator of the whole venture Mr. Butts received a total of $265,000 in royalties, while James got approximately $1.5 million. From the year 1980 to 2000, Scrabble saw a lot of transition moving from the hand of one director to another. However, the market for the whole venture remained intact.

The game was first sold in the United Kingdom in 1954. Since then, Scrabble has been produced in over 22 languages including Braille. It created its worldwide audience over time, in fact, several tournaments were held up for the enthusiasts who eagerly looked up to it. In 1984, the success graph of Scrabble took a positive hike when the game was turned into a day time show on NBC. This game show was telecasted from 1984 to 1990 which was followed by its second run in the year 1993. The time changed but the legacy continued. In 2011, Scrabble Showdown was hosted which was a collaboration of Discovery Communications Inc. and Hasbro.

Scrabble was faced a lot of muting and degradation at the same time as its enlightening years. The game set was being sold out of the U.S by the rivals of Hasbro, who owned more than half of the $1.1 billion of U.S games market. As the times passed, in 1993, Mattel, who were the top competitors of Hasbro, paid $90 million to get a hold on the international rights of Scrabble. The evidence lies in the bifurcated homepage of

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Followed by several contemporaries on a global scale, in 2005, Scrabulous, an unauthorized version of Scrabble was launched on the then-followed Facebook. Hasbro, the owner of the North American rights of the game opposed as it highly impacted the US markets. Facing the lawsuit, the creators of Scrabulous, Mr. Rajat and Mr. Jayant Agarwalla in 2008, developed another version of Scrabble known as Wordscraper. This scrabble-like set allowed users to modify their own boards and team up accordingly. Later that year, Facebook officially banned Scrabulous for its North American users. Hasbro, competing legally, finally won and launched the online version of Scrabble on Facebook.

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This highly followed board-set game saw a lot of implications over time. Nevertheless, many modifications and versions never failed to impress its audience. In 2004, Scrabble was presented into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

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