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The History of Pictionary

Pictionary was created by a young waiter named Rob Angel. After graduating college in 1981, he moved in with some friends in Spokane, Washington. One night, one of his roommates suggested playing a game he described as “charades on paper.” It became a popular tradition among the roommates. Angel realized that the concept would make a good board game and even came up with a name: Pictionary, which he derived from a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary that he used to think of new words during play. In 1984, Angel’s mother sent him a care package that included Trivial Pursuit, which inspired Angel to launch Pictionary. Reportedly, his former roommates didn’t want to be involved, so Angel recruited two partners, Gary Everson and Terry Langston. With a $35,000 loan from Angel’s uncle, they formed Angel Games, Inc. and developed the game and packaging. The game was set to launch on June 1, 1985, but their printing company was unable to sort the 500,000 game cards, so Angel and his partners did so themselves using spare shoeboxes from Nordstrom! The game launched to great success, and since then, it has sold over 38 million copies in 60 countries. In the 2000s, Angel and his partners sold Pictionary to Mattel for $29 million and it remains a highly popular board game to this day.

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