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SCRABBLE® 50th Anniversary



John D. Williams, Jr. (516) 477-0033


Even though it's a word game, the real story about SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game is numbers. One hundred million sets sold worldwide. Between one and two million sold each year in North America. And, of keen interest to the legions of passionate players, somewhere over 147,000 words to be used in their scoring arsenal.

Now SCRABBLE® is about to add one more important number to its legacy -- fifty. It was fifty years ago that the game started its evolution from underground craze to classic Americana. It was in 1948 that the SCRABBLE® trademark was registered, and the game was aggressively marketed nationally for the first time.

The story is as American as, well, SCRABBLE®. Alfred Mosher Butts, an out-of-work architect from Poughkeepsie, New York, thought he might earn some extra cash during the Great Depression. He thought maybe he'd try inventing a game and, since he loved crosswords and anagrams, that's where he started.

Butts tinkered for over a decade on various versions of his concept. The first was called LEXIKO. Things really headed in the right direction when he glued an architect's blueprint of his gridwork concept onto an old chessboard. This was called CRISS CROSS WORDS. To decide on letter distribution, Butts studied the front page of the New York Times and did painstaking calculations of letter frequency. That's why today's game has one Z and twelve E's, just as it did 50 years ago.

The final step occurred when Butts met James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur who was enamored of the concept. Together, they made some refinements on rules and design and, most importantly, came up with the name SCRABBLE®, a real word which means "to grope frantically". They patented the name and began "mass producing" games in Brunot's garage.

As so often happens in the game business, SCRABBLE® plugged along, gaining slow but steady popularity among a comparative handful of consumers. Then in the early 1950's, as legend has it, the president of Macy's discovered the game on vacation, and ordered some for his store. Within a year, everyone "had to have one" to the point that SCRABBLE® was being rationed to stores around the country.

Today the game is found in one of every three American homes, ranging from a Junior version to a new CD-ROM with many versions in between, including standard, Spanish, Deluxe Travel and Deluxe with turntable.

To celebrate this milestone, 1998 has been dubbed a year-long `SPELL-A-BRATION' by the game's manufacturer, Milton Bradley Company, a division of Hasbro This exciting year will include events, contests, the largest SCRABBLE® tournament in history and more.

Appropriately, the centerpiece will be the game board itself -- the introduction of the 50th Anniversary Edition SCRABBLE®. This new version is definitely not your grandmother's SCRABBLE®! It's the popular Deluxe turntable model completely redesigned and enhanced for its 50th anniversary and the new millennium as well!

Among its features, the 50th Anniversary Edition SCRABBLE® will have a sleek, redesigned board, a high-action turntable, a lush tile bag with custom tiles, a three-minute digital timer and a word source. The set will also include tips on strategy and play from experts at the National SCRABBLE® Association, a certificate of authenticity and a detailed history of the game.

"A lot of love and planning went into this project," explains E. David Wilson, President of Hasbro Americas, "We think it's the perfect blend of honoring SCRABBLE®'s extraordinary heritage while appealing to a whole new generation of game lovers."

SCRABBLE® 50th Edition was previewed at the International Toy Fair in February in New York City. The game is scheduled to be in stores late summer. The approximate retail price is $50.00.

SCRABBLE® is a trademark of Hasbro

HASBRO is the owner of the registered SCRABBLE® trademark in the United States and Canada. © 2011 HASBRO. All rights reserved. "SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game" is the proper way to refer to this unique group of word games and related properties marketed by HASBRO. "SCRABBLE®" is not a generic term. To use it as such is not only misleading but also does injustice to the company responsible for the trademark's longtime popularity. All we ask is that when you mean SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game, you say so. 

The SCRABBLE® trademark is owned by J.W. Spear and Sons, PLC, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. outside of the United States and Canada. 

For more information about SCRABBLE® or the NSA, or to comment on or correct the contents of this page, please e-mail: info@scrabble-assoc.com. 
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