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Alfred Mosher Butts - Board Game Designer Biography

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Scrabble

Scrabble

Best Known For:

Alfred Mosher Butts is best known as the inventor of Scrabble, the most popular word game in the world. It was first published in 1948.

Other Games:

Alfred Butts also designed Alfred's Other Game, published in 1985 by Selchow & Righter, the company which at the time owned the rights to Scrabble. Alfred's Other Game is also a word game. The box cover features a photo of Butts sitting in a leather chair with a beautiful woman sitting on the arm of the chair. Butts was 86 at the time of the game's publication.

First Published Game:

Scrabble was Alfred Butts' first published game. Many different editions of Scrabble have been published since it was first released.

Birth and Death:

Alfred M. Butts was born on April 13, 1899, in Poughkeepsie, New York. He died on April 4, 1993.

More About Alfred Butts:

According to his obituary in The New York Times, Butts invented Scrabble "as a jobless architect in the Depression." For many years, it was rejected by game publishers before one of Butts' friends, James Brunot, started making several dozen copies a week.

Brunot also coined the name Scrabble (the game had previously been called Lexico and Criss Cross Words). After several years of truly independent game publishing, Scrabble caught the eye of an executive for the department store Macy's.

When Macy's started carrying the game, demand increased exponentially. Selchow & Righter, a game publisher which had rejected it years earlier, started publishing Scrabble. Selchow & Righter was purchased by Coleco in 1986. When Coleco declared bankruptcy in in 1989, its primary assets -- including Scrabble -- were purchased by Hasbro.

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