Please read this informative history of trivia and "useless knowledge." 

Trivia About Trivia: The Origins and History of Trivia in the United States
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-Where did the word Trivia come from?
-What was the first documented use of the word?

-When did the television game show Jeopardy first air, and on what network?

-What were the Game Show Scandals of the 1950's?

Fans of Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit alike, find the answers to these and many other truly "trivial" questions, by reading on, as we explore the trivial side of Trivia.

According to Wikipedia the word Trivia dates back to early Latin, and is derived from the prefix "tri" meaning three, and "via" meaning road. Thus the word literally meant "A meeting place of three roads".

In Roman times "A meeting place of three roads" would most often feature a tavern, or place of "ill-repute". Out of this concept of the tavern, which was thought of as an unimportant, and insignificant place, the word "Trivium" gained it's more popular meaning.

The first known use of the word "trivial" in English dates back to 1589, although an earlier use of "Trivium" in 1432-1450 may have some bearing on the modern use of the word. "Trivium", in this case, was used in reference to the study of the Liberal Arts, and indicated "insignificance" in the idea that certain facts were considered to be "only of interest to graduate students."

The term "trivia" now represents small tidbits of knowledge that, for all intents and purposes, are insignificant to the majority of people. The first book to feature this type of trivial information was aptly titled "Trivia". The book, published in 1966 by Dell, was written by coauthors Goodgold and Carlinsky. It's popularity sky-rocketed, landing it a spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list. It laid the groundwork for other successful trivia related books such as "The Trivia Encyclopedia" in 1974, "The Complete Unabridged Super Trivia Encyclopedia" in 1977, and "Super Trivia, Vol. II" in 1981, all published by Fred L. Worth, a former Air Traffic Controller from Sacramento. The success of these and other trivia knowledge books, as well as trivia quiz shows such as Columbia's University's Trivia Contest, finally led to the release of the now famous board game, Trivial Pursuit, in the early 1980's.

Trivial Pursuit was conceived in 1979 by Scott Abbott, a sports editor for the Canadian Press, and Chris Haney, a photo editor for the Montreal Gazette. After finding the pieces of their Scrabble game missing, the two decided to create their own board game. With the help of John Haney and Ed Werner, they completed development of the game, which was released to the public in 1982. In the year 1984 over 20 million copies of the game Trivial Pursuit were sold in North America. Northern Plastics of Elroy, Wisconsin produced 30,000,000 games between 1983 and 1985. Three years later, 1988, the rights to the game were licensed to Parker Brothers. By the year 2004 nearly 88 million games had been sold in 26 countries and 17 languages.

The enormous success of Trivial Pursuit paved the way for the return of the television quiz show "Jeopardy", in 1984. Jeopardy was conceived by Merv Griffin. Originally introduced as a television game show in the year 1964, many have suggested its format, in which the answer is given, and contestants must respond in the form of a question, was inspired as a result of the 1950's "quiz show scandals."

In 1954 television was just becoming a central figure in many American households. The $64,000 Question, Twenty-One and Beat The Clock were just a few of the quiz shows to hit the network in the mid to late 1950's, thanks to a Supreme Court's ruling that found that quiz shows could not be considered gambling. The enraptured American public tuned in to these and many other quiz shows, in large numbers, drawn in by the appeal of the large financial rewards for contestants who had the greatest amount knowledge and intelligence. Between 1956 and 1958, however, information began to emerge that suggested many of these popular quiz shows had been rigged. A lengthy trial of several key figures in the production of these quiz shows followed. The trials brought out evidence that proved that many of the game show winners had been furnished with answers prior to their appearance on the show. While no-one went to jail for their roles in the game show scandals, this period marked the end of the quiz show era, at least for a while.

The original release of Jeopardy in 1964 helped to bring back the quiz show, which was now being referred to as the game show. It also aided in restoring the American people's trust in the game show industry, by taking extra steps to ensure that the show would not be rigged. Limits on prize money that could be won, as well as rigid guidelines for who a contestant could have contact with prior to an appearance on the show ensured that the winners on this game show would have to win fair and square. This original release ran for 11 years, before it's cancellation in 1975. Although the show had a few brief stints over the next several years, it wasn't brought back in full force until 1984, when Alex Trebek became its newest and most well known host. Since then Jeopardy has had a continuous run for 23 years and counting.

The American public's fascination with trivia ranges from books to board games, from television and radio quiz shows, to popular internet sites featuring trivia quizes and games. As technology advances, so too does our desire for new and different forms of trivia games. New video games, cell phone games, and downloadable forms of trivia games hit the market every day. "Buzztime" is featuring some of the hottest new trivia game play format around. Interactive games can be played from restraunts, bars, and other public locations. Buzztime offers consumers of these establishments the opportunity to compete for prizes and national recognition in trivia and sports-related games. Buzztime trivia games are also becoming available in many areas of the country on cable, digital cable, Satellite TV, Internet, and even mobile phones. With the launch of these new interactive trivia games, one can only imagine what other new developments the future will bring for trivia fans across the country.