History of UNO(+Who Invented UNO)

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by Basana Saha

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UNO is a very popular card game worldwide, but it also has an interesting history.

Do you know its history?

In this post, I will discuss UNO’s history in detail with its inventor and why it is named UNO.

History of UNO

Let’s get started!

History of UNO Game

What exactly was the problem? What induced the fight between father and son, leading to the birth of a new game?

The answer is – Crazy Eights, according to Merle Robbins, was an extremely tricky game leading to friendly confrontations at times. To make the game stand out, Merle Robbins wrote the game instructions on the backside of the card.

Here are the instructions that he penned underside of the card:

  • The King – Reversal of Play Direction
  • Queen – Skipping the next turn (this gave birth to the reverse card in UNO)
  • Aces – Wild Cards.

The cards were of Crazy Eights, but the instructions were new, leading to UNO’s birth. After plating with this newly instructed card for some time. Robbin’s family surprisingly discovered that they had already invented a new game. They decided to call it UNO. 

The surprising fact is that. Merle and his wife printed 5000 UNO card decks with all their savings for a lifetime which was about $8000. They traveled to Florida from Ohio, planning to sell their cards. While on the road, they started demonstrating the game to others to sell the cards.

To support the game’s financing, they stayed even in the camper to save money. This was a massive risk for the family because they were simple barbers with little money.

However, they were super enthusiastic about the game and did not step back to take up such a massive risk of putting all their money at stake. The risk paid them off well, and the Robbins soon could sell off all their printed UNO cards

But there were better strategies to make UNO popular. Though they had done well with the game, Merle Robbins could not market it correctly because he needed connections.

A simple barber could not have er brought the immense popularity to Uno that it has today if it had not been for Robert Tezak. Robert Tezak was the owner of a multinational company named International Games Inc, and he got hold of the game.

He bought the game from Merle Robbins and introduced some changes in the game. None of it tangled the essence of the game. Instead, the change was just in terms of packaging.

These changes, however, helped to soar up the game of UNO. Merle earned a 10% royalty for having devised the game, whereas Tezak started selling the game at high numbers. 

Later, in 1992, International Games merged with the Mattel company, taking over all the games, including Uno. The Mattel company launch various new versions of Uno, such as Uno wild jackpot, Uno Attack, and other versions, such as Minecraft Uno.

Later on, with the tech revolution, we also got the Uno online game which is simply marvelous. 

A heated debate gave rise to one of the world’s most popular card games.

Isn’t that remarkable?

Uno has been an ardent favorite of many card game lovers. After all the years, Uno is one of the global games with easy yet exciting rules. To learn more about the rules of UNO, check this post here written by me.

The Robbins family was indeed the inventor of the modern Uno game. It was a modified yet entirely different game version of Crazy Eights.

Still, Uno gained this massive success and popularity because of the International Games and Robert Tezak.

Who Invented the Game of UNO?

Merle Robbins invented Uno in 1971. The game’s history is unique because this gentleman invented it to resolve a fight with his son. They were playing the game – Crazy Eights, and there was some dispute between father and son regarding who will win the game.

The father thought that if a game could raise so much dispute among the family, it would be better to devise a game that would not give birth to any disagreement among the family members.

So, UNO was a modified version intended to provide happiness to the players instead of raising some disputes. 

Merle was a card game lover and addict. By profession, he was a barber. When he discovered that UNO as a card game was fantastic, he worked hard at his barbershop and saved $8000. With the collected money, he made 5000 sets of Uno.

He started selling these Uno sets at his barber shop and on the road. After many years, he sold the rights of the Uno game to Robert Tezak’s International games. Later on, the rights were re-sold to Mattel. 

Most people enjoy playing the game because it is super fun, but they don’t know about the history and origin of the game.

Merle Robbins was a regular barber in Ohio, USA, and a card game lover. His entire family was involved in card games, and they loved playing cards together. 

In 1871, it was just another regular day when Merle and his son played Crazy Eights. After some time in the game, Merle and his son got involved in a heated debate regarding the game rules.

Merle then invented new card game rules and created a new card game called UNO that would feature amiable rules that would not raise any fight between players. 

When did UNO come out?

UNO Game first came out in 1971. It was designed by Merle Robbins.

Why was UNO named Uno?

The term UNO means “one” in Italian.(Source) He chose this game name because it fit the game’s description and objective well. In the game of UNO, the target is to become the number one player before anyone else does that.

The first player to get rid of all the cards will win the game; thus, the name is justified. When a player has only one card left, they must call out UNO, and all players will notice that this would be the game’s winner. 

Since the UNO Rules were born out of the fight over the rules of Crazy Eights, it has many similarities with the rules of Crazy Eights. It is almost a modified version of the former game.

The exciting difference between Crazy Eight and UNO lies in specific rules. Merle drew the first UNO cards during the fight on the dinner table with his son. Later on, these cards were regarded. 

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Analyzed By Basana Saha

Basana Saha has expertise working for more than 25 years as a beautician. She has expertise in choosing the right accessories and gears for your baby. Being a mom she knows the problems new moms face. She would like to help with Parenting to new moms with her expertise in raising a child. Learn More About Basana Saha.