Scrabble is a brand name crossword-style board game invented by Poughkeepsie, New Yorker, Alfred Mosher Butts. The game was first named Lexiko, then Criss Cross Words, before being trademarked 16 December 1948 as the Scrabble Brand Crossword Game. Scrabble continues to be a favorite game around the world and over one million Scrabble games are sold worldwide each year.
Butts was an unemployed architect at the time he invented the word game that would later become Scrabble. He analyzed all kinds of games and puzzles and discovered three main categories. He found number-centered games such as bingo, move-centered games such as chess, and word-centered games such as the crossword puzzle.
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Butts also methodically analyzed a front page of The New York Times to gain an understanding of how often each letter is used. This was important to Butts as he wanted the game to have random letter distribution, but still be challenging. For example, he cut the amount of letter "S" tiles down to four because he thought the game would be too simple with any more than that.
Butts received many rejections when he went to game companies to get his game developed. Finally, an entrepreneur named James Brunot helped Butts manufacture his game. Brunot came up with the name Scrabble, meaning to "reach or grope with the hands in a frenzied manner." Brunot had family and friends help him stamp the letter tiles by hand to produce the games; first in his living room in Dodgington, Connecticut, and then in an old rented schoolhouse nearby. Brunot lost $450 (USD) as the game seemed to be taking a while to catch on.
When the chairman of Macy's, Jack Strauss, was on vacation in the early 1950s, he played Scrabble and ordered some games for his store. Soon, the supply could not keep up with the demand for the game. In 1952, Brunot had an established game manufacturer called Selchow and Richter produce Scrabble to meet the growing demand. Brunot sold Selchow and Richter the trademark to the game in 1972. Coleco bought the trademark in 1986 and then Hasbro and its games division, Milton Bradley, bought the rights to Scrabble in 1989.
More than one hundred million Scrabble games have been sold around the world. Scrabble is available in Spanish, French, and twenty six other languages. Deluxe, Travel, CD-ROM, and Junior versions for children also sell well. The world's first Scrabble Championship was held in London in 1991 and the second in 1993 in New York City. Scrabble Championships continue to be held both nationally and internationally.