Letter frequency

Enigma

Code Breakers understand that letter frequency is core to breaking down a code.  In really simple terms, using a code written in English, a single digit word may be a number, but could be the letter A.  The most frequently used digit in a long block of text is most likely to be the letter E.

In the 1930’s an unemployed architect called Alfred Butts (b. April 13th, 1899) did a letter frequency count using the New York Times front page as his template.  Using those frequencies he applied difficulty scores to a word game he invented called Lexico.

After some tweaks the game was purchased by James Brunot, and built by him under the name Scrabble.  Brunot launched the game in 1948 and in the first year sold 2,400 “sets”.  In the process he lost $450.

150 million sets + have now been sold worldwide.  It has spawned multiple online versions as it is a board game that converts perfectly for social media.

The original inventor of the game is immortalised by children.  Put a game of scrabble in front of a group of 7 year olds and it won’t take them long to spell out the surname of the inventor.

 

Scrabble