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Fascinating facts about the invention of TRIVIAL PURSUIT®
Chris Haney and Scott Abbott in 1979.


On December 15, 1979, when Chris Haney and Scott Abbott got together in Montreal for a game of Scrabble and found pieces of the game missing, they wondered aloud why they shouldn't invent a game of their own. They did! It was Trivial Pursuit®!
Invention: TRIVIAL PURSUIT® in1979
Trivial Pursuit Star Wars Revenge of the Sith DVD Collector Tin
Function: noun / Trademark
Definition: Trivial Pursuit is a board game where progress is determined by a player's ability to answer general knowledge or popular culture questions.
Inventors: Chris Haney and Scott Abbott  
Criteria: First to invent. Entrepreneur.  
1979 Two friends, Scott Abbott and Chris Haney created a board game called Trivial Pursuit
Horn Abbot Ltd., was incorporated in January to produce the game.
1980 After realizing that more help and money were needed John Haney and
Ed Werner join them.
1981 First prototype run of 1100 games were sold in Canada. On each game sold they lose $60
1982 Chieftain Products Ltd. became their Canadian distributor.
1983 Selchow & Righter agrees to produce and market the game in the United States
1984 A record 20 million games were sold in the United States alone.
1988 Parker Brothers secured the rights to the TRIVIAL PURSUIT® game
1992 Parker Brothers was acquired by Hasbro, Inc.
1993 Games magazine named Trivial Pursuit to the Games Hall of Fame.
2004 To date nearly 88 million games had been sold, in 26 countries and 17 languages.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT, board game, Scott Abbott, Chris Haney, John Haney,
Ed Werner, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
The Story:
The origins of the TRIVIAL PURSUIT® game can be traced back to a blustery day in Montreal, December 15, 1979, when two friends, Scott Abbott, sports editor with the Canadian Press and Chris Haney, photo editor for the Montreal Gazette engaged in a friendly argument over who was the better game player. This led to the friends creating a board game of their own. After realizing that more help and more money were needed to begin developing their idea Chris's older brother John, an ex-hockey player, and John's friend Ed Werner, an ex-hockey player turned lawyer, were recruited, and the team of Abbott, Haney, Haney and Werner got to work.

Horn Abbot, was incorporated in January 1980, it was agreed that Scott Abbott and Chris Haney would each receive 22 percent of the company. Ed Werner, corporate lawyer, and John Haney, brother of Chris, each agreed to receive 18 percent of the company.

Having no experience with the games business, it took these four men years of hard work before the TRIVIAL PURSUIT® game became a seemingly "overnight success" with the public. Having depleted almost all of their own money they convinced friends and relatives to buy shares of their company to raise additional capital. The first prototype production test market run of 1100 games were sold in Canada. They had cost Horn Abbot almost $ 75 each to manufacture, an outlandish price for a board game. They sold each game initially for $15 so that retailers could price the game at $29.95 - still considered exorbitant for a board game.

The TRIVIAL PURSUIT® game was first shown in the U.S. at the American International Toy Fair in New York City in February 1982. They expected to sell thousands of copies: to their great disappointment, only a few hundred were ordered.

But they would not give up-even after realizing that they were so in debt that if they sold all of the 20,000 games ordered from their second production run they would barely break even. But there was a magic to the game, which had game stores doubling their orders and the media soliciting interviews.

After numerous setbacks and hard times, things finally began to go their way. Chieftain Products Ltd. became their Canadian distributor beginning October 1, 1982 and in 1983 they introduced the TRIVIAL PURSUIT® game to the Selchow & Righter game company for the United States market.

The U.S. company agreed to manufacture and sell Trivial Pursuit in the United States and hired a PR consultant who launched an unusual direct mail promotion to 1,800 of the top buyers attending the 1983 New York Toy Fair and to Hollywood stars. Both promotions were successful, and the game took off beyond anyone's wildest imagination.

By the end of 1983, even before the Christmas rush, 2.3 million games had been sold in Canada, and a million more in the United States. Selchow and Righter could not keep up with the demand as retail sales soared that year. In 1984, a record 20 million of the games were sold in the United States alone, contracts were signed for European and Australian distribution rights, and retail sales exceeded one billion dollars. The kitchen table capitalists were newsmakers all over North America.

In 1988, Parker Brothers, then a Division of Tonka Corporation, secured the rights to the TRIVIAL PURSUIT® game for the USA and Canadian markets. In 1992 Parker Brothers was acquired by Hasbro, Inc. and along with Milton Bradley formed the Hasbro Games Unit.

Through it all, the highs and lows, Abbott, Haney, Haney and Werner have remained the same four good buddies with a great idea! All four are now millionaires and the initial 34 people who scraped together as little as $1,000 for five shares -or accepted shares instead of payment for services - have also realized fortunes as Trivial Pursuit has become the world's No. 1 board game.

Today, multiple versions of Trivial Pursuit are sold. The questions have been adapted to challenge players of different ethnic backgrounds in 19 languages and 33 countries. Horn Abbot continues to turn out new additions of Trivial Pursuit under the direction of President Jim Ware, a tax lawyer lured from a leading law firm in Toronto in 1984. In December 1993, Games magazine named Trivial Pursuit to the Games Hall of Fame. As of 2004, nearly 88 million games had been sold, in 26 countries and 17 languages.


History of Games   from The Great Idea Finder

Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson, Laurie Keller  / Hardcover - 128 pages (2000) / Henry Holt & Company
The quirky tales behind more than two dozen novelties, gadgets and games, from seesaws to Silly Putty and toy soldiers to Trivial Pursuit.

The Original Trivia Treasury : 1,001 Questions for Competitive Play
by R. Wayne Schmittberger / Paperback: 208 pages / Wiley (October, 1990)
Here are 1,001 fun and interesting trivia quizzes covering a wide range of subjects, written by a man who has been an editor of Games magazine and has developed numerous games and puzzles.
10,000 Answers : The Ultimate Trivia Encyclopedia
by Stanley Newman, Hal Fittipaldi / Paperback: 608 pages / Random House Reference; 1st ed (2001)
Authoritative and browsable, comprehensive and fun, 10,000 Answers is both a portal to the world of little-known facts and an absorbing destination itself. This book stands in the tradition of Fred Worth's Trivia Encyclopedia, a cult classic that unfortunately was never updated and had no index. Perfect for trivia buffs who've had to wait too long for a new book like this,

The History of Toys and Games  
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 100 Minutes / The History Channel / Less than $30.00
As long as there have been children, there have been toys. And from wooden tops to virtual reality, America has always taken its playthings pretty seriously. Hear the fascinating stories of the young-at-heart inventors who created some of the most famous games and toys of all time, and meet the people who play for a living, trying to anticipate what kids will fall for next holiday season.


Official Trivial Pursuit Web Site
The TRIVIAL PURSUIT® game is a party in a box, people talking to people in a revolt against television.
Trivial Pursuit History
What do you do on a cold day in Montreal, Canada? Pursue trivia.
Canadian Tributes
The kitchen table capitalists were newsmakers all over North America. Becoming award winners, caused them to replace their customary T-shirts and jeans for tuxedos to attend a dinner in Toronto to receive an Ontario Business Achievement Award.
Top 10 Trivial Moments of 2004 in Honor of National Trivia Day
Annual List Highlights Trivial People and Events from the Worlds of Sports, Pop Culture and More.
What classic board game, created in 1979, is on the decline?
Article by Bryan Curtis for Slate eZine. POP-UPS.
Trivial Pursuit is a party in a box, people talking to people, a revolt against television. Since its introduction in 1981, this phenomenally successful board game has been testing game Players' wits to the limit.
Trivial obssessions
Since it was invented by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott in 1979, Trivial Pursuit has sold over 70 million copies worldwide. Since 1984, Montreal journalist Juan Rodriquez has composed more than 50,000 questions for 20 editions of the game. Question: what has it done to his mind? Article by Juan Rodriquez for the Montreal Mirror.
Trivial Pursuit Chips
Procter & Gamble Co. teamed up with toy maker Hasbro to feature trivia from Hasbro's Trivial Pursuit Junior board game on Pringles potato chips. The new Pringles Prints will feature six different categories of trivia questions and answers printed with food coloring on the chips.
Clash of the Trivia Titans
In 1984, the sedate world of trivia was rocked by a $300-million lawsuit full of accusations of plagiarism and monster legal mumbo-jumbo about the intricate world of intellectual property rights. Even TV's Lt. Columbo would have been mystified ... and it was all his fault!

"What mighty contests rise from trivial things" - Alexander Pope

"Trivia is a game played by those who realize that they have misspent their youth but do not want to let go of it." - Edwin Goodgold, 1965


  • Time magazine has called Trivial Pursuit "the biggest phenomenon in game history"
  • On November 10, 1981, "Trivial Pursuit" was trademark registered.
  • The partners are still friends, pursuing widespread interests including ownership of two golf courses outside Toronto, race horses, a junior hockey team, and numerous other pursuits besides the one that made it all possible.
  • Today, multiple versions of Trivial Pursuit are sold. The questions have been adapted to challenge players of different ethnic backgrounds in 17 languages and 26 countries.
  • As of 2004 nearly 88 million games had been sold, in 26 countries and 17 languages.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT® is a registered trademark of Horn Abbot Ltd.
For the games distributed under exclusive license to Hasbro, Inc.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised May, 2005.

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