Criss Cross Words
April 4, 1993 - Alfred Mosher Butts died on this day. He was an architect and an artist, but his biggest claim to fame was his invention of the board game Scrabble.
Butts wanted to create a game that required a combination of luck and skill. His idea was to have players compete by creating a crossword puzzle out of randomly selected letter tiles.
In order to make the game challenging, Butts studied the front page of The New York Times to determine how often each letter in the alphabet was used. This analysis helped Butts determine how many tiles of each letter to include in the game.
The first version of the game was called Lexiko, then Criss Cross Words. Butts pitched it to all the major game companies, but nobody was interested. He eventually convinced an entrepreneur named James Brunot to help develop and manufacture the game. Brunot was the one who suggested the game be renamed as Scrabble, a real word that means "to grope frantically."
In its first year, 2400 Scrabble games were created but the company lost $450. The following year the game was discovered by a Macy's executive on vacation. He ordered a few sets for his store and suddenly the game's popularity began to skyrocket.
It's now estimated that one in every three homes in America has a Scrabble game.