“Games, he thought. People need distractions during hard times.”
Stefan Fatsis, Word Freak
A phenomenon often starts with a whimper more than a big bang.
Alfred Butts an architect started working on Scrabble in 1931 and had his first version by 1934 (called Lexico). He tried to interest Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers and Simon & Schuster. They all rejected the game. When he couldn’t find a manufacturer he continued to tinker with the game and created his next version Criss-Cross Words. By 1947 he had nearly given up on his game when he heard from James Brunot, a guy looking for a small business to run. It was Brunot that named the new game Scrabble.
After James Brunot acquired the early version of Scrabble from the inventor Butts in 1949, he sold only 2,413 sets of Scrabble. In the next year, 1950, he sold only 1,632 sets. The year after that he sold 4,853 sets and Brunot was still not making money. It took almost four years for the game to take off. In 1953, close to 800,000 sets were sold. Sales today are in the millions.