With tenacity and vision, Alfred Mosher Butts (1899-1993) created the world's most popular word game, Scrabble, after 18 years of trial and error.
"The will to persevere," said broadcast pioneer David Sarnoff, "is often the difference between failure and success."
On his quest for success, Butt was inspired by the code deciphering of Edgar Allen Poe's character, William Legran, in The Gold-Bug to count the frequency of letters in the English language. He used the New York Times as a word count guide.
The inventor assigned point values to each letter, then designed a grid for letter placement. Each of the game's 100 tiles was done by hand and out of wood.
An architect by trade with a passion for crosswords, Butts was born in Poughkeepsie, New York and first conceived the game in 1931 during the Depression. In 1947, he sold the game rights for sale royalties to entrepreneur James Brunot, who came up with the name Scrabble, which means "to grope frantically."
"You are never a loser until you quit trying," observed football coach Mike Ditka. For Alfred Butts, perseverance paid off. His invention became the world's best selling word game.
In 1980, mathematician and Scrabble fan Daniel Pratt developed a rating system for the game modeled after the U.S. Chess Federation.
The passion for Scrabble has not diminished, with online play more popular than ever. Thousands of enthusiasts throughout the world competing in tournaments. Over 100 million sets have been sold in 121 countries and in 29 languages, including Braille.
Hang in there. You can do it.