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The History of Connect Four

In 1971, Howard Wexler had been working as social worker, a teacher, and a school psychologist in New York City and on Long Island while also working on a Ph.D. in educational psychology at Fordham when he read an article about the psychology that goes into making toys. Inspired, he decided to change careers. After some independent practice and some time working at a small toy company, he secured a job at Hasbro. Two years later, he struck out on his own. He decided he wanted to invent a strategy game and was eventually struck with inspiration — he realized that most games are played on a horizontal plane and so he chose to go in a different direction (literally!) and create one on a vertical plane. In 1973, he used a series of transparent tubes and two sets of ping pong balls to develop Connect Four. It hit the market the following year, but didn’t start gaining notoriety until 1978. Initially, no one was interested, but Wexler didn’t give up. He continually reached out to Dick Harris from Milton Bradley until he agreed to produce the game, which was added to the back of the company’s catalog and began to gain popularity based on word of mouth. When Milton Bradley began running TV ads for it, Connect Four really took off. It is now produced by Hasbro, which acquired Milton Bradley in 1984. Some things have changed, including the color of the discs and grid as well as the spelling of the name (it’s now spelled as Connect 4 but was originally called Connect Four). Today, the game remains immensely popular and there are now various sizes and even electronic formats available to play.

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