CBC Digital Archives

1979: Invention of Trivial Pursuit

From the hula hoop, tabletop hockey, Spirograph and toy guns to Cabbage Patch Kids, Elmo, GI Joe and Transformers, kids in Canada have had no shortage of toys and games to choose from since the 1950s. Mega-seller Barbie came in various incarnations and the trivial pursuit of digital equipment made popular games seem invisible in the new millenium. CBC Digital Archives takes a look back at what's been cool and unique in playland throughout the years.

Two Montreal journalists got together to play a game of Scrabble on Dec. 15, 1979. That evening, their usual banter turned creative and within forty-five minutes they had invented a trivia board game that would turn them into millionaires. Three years later, Trivial Pursuit is flying off the shelves of game stores across Canada. It has been an uphill battle to get the game into the hands of consumers, but the struggles are beginning to pay off. The inventors talk about the path to board game success.

• In the original blue "Genus" Edition Trivial Pursuit box were 6,000 trivia questions written on 1,000 multi-coloured cards. The original categories were: Geography, Science and Nature, Sports and Leisure, History, Entertainment and Arts and Literature.
• Following the success of the original game, other versions were developed, including sports, movies and a children's edition. In 2002 the 20th anniversary edition debuted.

• Chris Haney, a photo editor for the Montreal Gazette, and Scott Abbott, a sports editor for the Canadian Press, were long-time friends and game rivals.
• At the time of this broadcast, Trivial Pursuit was outselling Monopoly. Factories were having trouble keeping up with the demand for the game, and Canadian game stores couldn't keep it in stock.

• Questions range from the very easy, like "Was Humpty Dumpty pushed?" to very difficult questions like "What modern day animal is related to the prehistoric medrychippus?" Though everyone has a different opinion of what constitutes a difficult question.
• In 1988, Parker Brothers, now Hasbro Inc., secured the rights to the game for the U.S. and Canadian markets.

Also on December 15:
1964: The House of Commons votes 163-to-78 to adopt the red and white maple leaf design as Canada's flag.
1988: The Supreme Court of Canada strikes down the French-only sign provisions of Quebec's language law known as Bill 101. The Court ruled it was violating freedom of expression.
1993: Canadian Sylvie Frechette is awarded an Olympic gold medal. She was awarded silver at the 1992 Games in Barcelona after a judge pressed the wrong key.
Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Dec. 22, 1982
Guest(s): Scott Abbott, Chris Haney, John Haney, Stu Robertson
Host: Peter Kent
Reporter: Fred Langan
Duration: 4:42
Photo: Trivial Pursuit board by mtbjohn, used under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic license.

Last updated: March 20, 2013

Page consulted on March 20, 2013

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