Just as our beloved scrabblicious "35th Avenue" sign has gone missing, The Scotsman takes note of Scrabble's 60th birthday....
The ScotsmanScrabble is sixty
Published Date: 22 May 2008
By Lindsay McIntosh
THERE are no flashing lights, interactive car chases or shoot 'em ups and although it can now be played online, it has steadfastly refused to be corrupted by the digital revolution.
Yet Scrabble â€“ the word game consisting solely of a board and some tiles printed with letters â€“ has endured through the generations to celebrate its 60th birthday this year.
In an era supposedly defined by gawping youngsters plugged into computer games, families still gather around their battered set in a battle for that elusive triple-letter word with 50-point bonus. Nipan Maniar, a games expert, said: "One only needs a pen and paper to play Scrabble â€“ it is that simple.
"Playing sophisticated computer games is not everyone's cup of tea. It needs financial investment and a technical expertise to play the game on hi-tech devices. Scrabble has been popular and will remain popular due to its simplicity and learning values."
Yesterday, a giant rack and tiles began a UK tour in Trafalgar Square, London, where words such as "chill" were spelled out in an attempt to help commuters beat the midweek slump.
The super-sized show will be at Edinburgh Zoo at the weekend, where organisers promise the word games will be animal-related.
It is a far cry from the game's conception by Alfred Mosher Butts, an architect in the United States during the Great Depression. In 1931, having lost his job and struggling to while away the days in the small town of Jackson Heights, New York State, he decided to explore his passion for games and words.
Combining it with his love of architecture, he came up with Lexico â€“ a game played with letter tiles, but no board.
His patent application, then approaches to manufacturers, were rejected but he persevered, fired by his faith in his product. Over the next five years, he produced 200 games, which he sold or gave away.
Finally, seven years after the initial idea was conceived, he made a breakthrough when he decided to combine it with the concept of a crossword.
Four name changes, including Alph and Criss-Crosswords, ensued and eventually he secured crucial business interest from a fan of the latter.
The manufacturer James Brunot signed an agreement with Mr Butts to produce the game, with the creator receiving a royalty for each sale. Mr Brunot changed the game only slightly â€“ but one of the adjustments was to change the name to Scrabble.
Word-of-mouth recommendation brought in orders â€“ and then one very important man got hooked. Jack Strauss, the chairman of Macy's, was introduced to the game by some friends, enjoyed it and then found that his department store did not stock it. A year after he began, it was introduced to Australia and the following year to Britain.(Follow link for complete article, including Scrabble trivia)