Uno: A Brief History of the Classic Card Game


uno_cardSince 1971, the card game Uno has been popular among families everywhere. The four-colored card game is simple to learn, but strategizing and thinking ahead is a huge part of being successful. It has become a staple of nearly any family game night and is popular among people of all ages.

Uno was invented in 1971 by a man named Merle Robbins. Supposedly, he had an argument with his son about the rules of another popular card game, Crazy Eights.

As a resolution to the disagreement, Robbins invented a new card game and dubbed it “Uno.” This makes sense as the game is very similar to Crazy Eights. The player has to match the color or number played before him or her. There are wild cards, essentially taking the place of the “crazy eights,” but there are several other action cards that distinguish Uno from its inspiration.

After becoming the card game of choice of the Robbins’, the family saved up $8,000 and manufactured the first 5,000 Uno decks, selling them out of Merle’s barber shop. By 1981, the game was hugely popular, so Merle sold the rights to the game to International Games for $50,000 plus royalties. The card game is now produced by Mattel and is still going strong.

In lieu of the success of Uno, there have been countless versions of the game, similar to the editions in Monopoly. These versions range from Peanuts Uno to NSYNC Uno. There is also a version of Uno for various sports teams, mostly from the MLB and NFL. There have also been various spinoff games, the most popular of which is Uno Stacko, a game that bears a striking resemblance to Jenga.

But now, in this electronic age we live in, this classic card game has naturally progressed to the world of video games. A handheld version of the game exists, and for only a few bucks, one can download the game on any current generation console on the market today. And yes, it can even be downloaded to your cell phone, meaning you can now play it literally anywhere.

What’s next for this increasingly popular card game? It’s impossible to tell. But as long as technology keeps advancing and the game remains popular, you can bet that it will continue to bring fun and entertainment to people of all ages.


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  1. I played crap on your neighbor in the army in 1978, it was olso called f..k your buddy. It was a blast to play. I also play uno…….but its a knock off of crap on your neighbor.

  2. When I was in high school in rural Iowa (from 1974 to 1978), we played a card game in the student lounge that we called “Crap on Your Neighbor.”

    It was essentially “Uno.” Except that when you were down to one card, you had to call out “one card,” not “uno.”

    All other features were the same. You played with (if I remember right) 3 decks for every 2 people. 7 skipped; jack reversed; 2 was “draw two”; low joker was a wild card; high joker was a wild-draw 4.

    I have no idea where it came from; I assumed it was a “real” card game the way Hearts or Spades or Crazy Eights are “real” card games. And I always assumed that the game company had simply taken an existing game and turned it into a trademark by giving it a name and a design. (Much the way the old dice game “Yacht” was turned into “Yahtzee” and also “Kismet.”)

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