In the twentieth century, the term trivia came to implicate that that is useful exclusively for answering quiz questions. An ideal trivia question is one that initially stumps the listener, but the answer typically sounds familiar once disclosed (otherwise the question would be considered either too familiar, or so unfamiliar and obscure as to be unanswerable and not as entertaining).
In the sixties, college students began to informally trade questions and answers about the popular culture of their youth. The first documented label of this casual game as trivia was at Columbia University. A stage contest held at Columbia was the first occasion where the pastime was formalized. In 1965, four Columbia students appeared on the TV show "I've Got a Secret" and competed in a trivia contest with the show's regular panelists. A much-publicized First Annual Ivy League-Seven Sisters Trivia Contest was held at Columbia the same semester. By 1966, other campuses had instituted trivia bowls, while colleges such as Williams College and Lawrence University began radio contests which continue to this day. In this manner, the codified form of the diversion became an institution.
In the early 1980s, "Trivial Pursuit" became a popular trivia game. This is a board game in which progress is determined by a player's ability to answer general knowledge and popular culture questions. In North America, the game's popularity peaked in 1984, a year in which over 20 million games were sold. The rights to the game were licensed to Parker Brothers (now Hasbro) in 1988, after initially being turned down by the Virgin Group. In 2008, Hasbro bought out the rights in full, for US $ 80 million. As of 2004, nearly 88 million games had been sold in 26 countries and 17 languages.
The intense success of "Trivial Pursuit" led to the re-launch of "Jeopardy!", Reviving a quiz show that had been dormant since the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. The American TV broadcaster ABC had a surprise hit with "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", an import of a successful British quiz format that launched another wave of interest in trivia. In both the UK and Canada, the quiz format has enjoyed continuous success since the 1950s, untouched by the scandals that dogged the American format.