The History of Trivial Pursuit

Game Invented by Canadians, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott

It was the board game Time magazine called the "the biggest phenomenon in game history." Trivial Pursuit was first conceived on December 15, 1979, by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott. At the time, Chris Haney worked as a photo editor at the Montreal Gazette, and Scott Abbott was a sports journalist for The Canadian Press. Haney was a high school dropout who later joked that he only regretted not dropping out earlier.

Haney and Abbott Develop Trivial Pursuit Game

The pair were playing a game of Scrabble when they decided to invent their own game. The two friends came up with the basic concept of Trivial Pursuit within a few short hours. However, it was not until 1981 that the board game was commercially released.

Haney and Abbott had taken on two more business partners (Ed Werner, corporate lawyer and John Haney, Chris' brother) since 1979 to form the Horn Abbot company, and had raised their initial funding by selling five shares in the company for as little as $1,000. Eighteen-year-old artist, Michael Wurstlin agreed to create the final artwork for Trivial Pursuit in exchange for his five shares.

Launching the Game

On November 10, 1981, "Trivial Pursuit" was trademark registered. That same month, 1100 copies of Trivial Pursuit were first published in Canada.

The first copies of Trivial Pursuit were sold at a loss, the manufacturing costs for the first copies came to seventy-five dollars per game and the game was sold to retailers for fifteen dollars.

Trivial Pursuit was licensed to Selchow and Righter a major U.S. game manufacturer and distributor in 1983.

The manufacturers financed a successful public relations effort and Trivial Pursuit became a household name. In 1984 they sold a record 20 million games in the United States and had retail sales of almost 800 million dollars.

Long-Term Success of Trivial Pursuit

The rights to the game were licensed to Parker Brothers in 1988 and Hasbro bought all rights in 2008. Reportedly, the first 32 investors were able to live comfortably on the annual royalties for life. However, one of the two inventors, Chris Haney, died at age 59 of a long illness in 2010.

Scott Abbott went on to own a hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League and was inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. He also owns a horse racing stable.

The game survived at least two lawsuits, One was from a trivia book author whose charged violation of copyright. However, the court ruled that facts are not protected by copyright. Another suit was brought by a man who alleged that he gave the idea to Chris Haney when Hany picked him up while he was hitchhiking.

In December 1993, Trivial Pursuit was named to the "Games Hall of Fame" by Games magazine. By 1014, they had produced more than 50 special editions of Trivial Pursuit. Players can test their knowledge on everything from Lord of the Rings to Country Music.

Trivial Pursuit is sold in at least 26 countries and 17 languages.It has been produced in home video game editions, an arcade game, an online version, and been produced as a television game shoe in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain.