This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
Trivial Pursuit, a board game that has sold over 100 million copies and been translated into 26 languages, was invented in 1979 in Montreal during a game of Scrabble. Inventors Chris Haney and Scott Abbott realized that there was money in board games and less than an hour later had drafted a plan for what became Trivial Pursuit. To create their original “Genus Edition,” Haney and Abbott wrote 6000 questions in six categories: geography, entertainment, history, art and literature, science and nature, and sports and leisure. After selling out their first run of 1000 games in 1980, they sold $1000 shares to 32 friends. By 1983 Canadian stores were unable to keep up with demand. That year the game was licensed in the U.S. In 1984, 20 million games were sold, marking the high point of the game’s success. Over more than 30 years and numerous thematic editions of the game, Trivial Pursuit has become an international pastime.