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A Brief History of Scrabble

October 16th, 2012 Games

Scrabble has long been one of the most popular board games in the world, with multiple tournaments held around the globe. According to Time Magazine, about 150 million copies of the game have been sold, and you can find a Scrabble set in a full third of homes in the United States. It's even spawned a wildly successful smartphone game known as Words With Friends, which pits players against each other in an online arena. You can find Scrabble in nearly 30 different languages and more than 120 countries.

The game was originally developed by a man named Alfred Mosher Butts, based on another game he had invented a few years prior. Scrabble as we know it came into being in the year 1938 – when Butts used a spreadsheet to manually calculate the frequency in which letters appeared in sources like the dictionary, The Saturday Evening Post and The New York Times, which he then referred to when figuring out how much they should be worth.

Scrabble hit it big in 1952 when Jack Straus, president of Macy's, played a game on vacation. When he returned home, he was surprised to learn that his store didn't carry it, and ordered a large volume. Within a year, Scrabble had taken off!

The game has even earned its own television show. The original Scrabble show ran from 1984 to 1990, with a second run in 1993. A new variation was launched in 2011. Although the rules of Scrabble Showdown are slightly different, they fundamentally retain the same practices that were put into place nearly 80 years ago.