Scrabble was invented in 1938 by unemployed architect Alfred Mosher Butts. Butts created the game as a variation of another word game he had invented, called Lexiko.
Butts decided on the frequency and distribution of letters in Scrabble by analysing the front page of the New York Times. He used a penknife to cut his first set of wooden Scrabble tiles. The original name of Scrabble was “Criss-Crosswords.”
The game has 100 tiles and is played on a board 15 spaces high and 15 spaces wide, for a total of 225 squares, although the original Scrabble didn’t include a board. It was played with just the tiles.
The game started with the first player building a word of at least two letters using the centre tile. After that, the next player built his own word using one of the letters of the first word, or by adding extra letters to change that word into a new one. Extra points could be racked up by building a word on double or triple score tiles.
To keep people from racking up easy scores by pluralising other player’s words, Butts allowed only 4 “S” tiles in the entire game. After players made a word, they picked out however many new letter tiles were needed to bring their count up to seven again.
Players could also challenge a word if they didn’t believe it to be proper. In these cases, a dictionary would be consulted to make the decision.
The game would go on until all the letters had been drawn and either a player used his last letter or all possible plays had been done.
At this point, everyone tallied up word scores and the person with the highest total was the winner. These rules made Scrabble a very sound and challenging game and, as a result, these rules remain the same today.
Scrabble was first manufactured in an old Connecticut schoolhouse at the rate of 12 games an hour. The game’s inventors got their first taste of success in the early 1950s when the president of Macys Department Store discovered the delights of Scrabble while on vacation and began selling them through Macys in 1952.
By the next year, Scrabble had become an American craze, thanks in part to a nationally-seen newspaper article about the game. To keep up with the demand, Brunot and Butts licensed Scrabble to board game manufacturers Selchow and Righter.
The game is sold in 121 countries in 29 different languages (there is even a Braille version). One hundred million sets have been sold worldwide, and Scrabble sets are found in one out of every three American homes..
The highest known score for a single word in competition Scrabble is 392. In 1982, Dr. Saladin Khoshnaw achieved this score for the word “caziques,” which means “Indian chief.”
The highest possible score, theoretically, for a single play under American tournament Scrabble rules is 1,778 points for joining eight already-played tiles to form the word OXYPHENBUTAZONE across three triple-word-score squares, while simultaneously extending seven specific already-played words to form new words.
The highest possible score a player can get in Scrabble, on a first turn, is for the word MUZJIKS (128 points). The highest score obtainable by playing a seven-letter word is QUARTZY (164 points) across a triple-word-score square with the Z on a double-letter-score square.
Celebrities known for being Scrabble fans include Sting, Keanu Reeves, Moby, John Travolta and Carol Burnett.