In 2015, Guinness World Records – the ultimate authority in record breaking achievements – celebrated the 60th anniversary of its first published edition and the creation of one of the world’s most successful and recognized brands.
The idea for a book of records begins in the early 1950s when Sir Hugh Beaver (1890—1967), Managing Director of the Guinness Brewery, attends a shooting party in County Wexford. There, he and his hosts argue about the fastest game bird in Europe, and fail to find an answer in any reference book.
In 1954, recalling his shooting party argument, Sir Hugh has the idea for a Guinness promotion based on the idea of settling pub arguments and invites the twins Norris (1925—2004) and Ross McWhirter (1925—75) to compile a book of facts and figures. Guinness Superlatives is incorporated on 30 November and the office opens in two rooms in a converted gymnasium on the top floor of Ludgate House, 107 Fleet Street.
After an initial research phase, work begins on writing the book, which takes 13 and a half 90-hour weeks, including weekends and bank holidays. Little do the McWhirters know that taking shape is a book that will go on to become an all-time best seller and one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the world…
The first edition of The Guinness Book of Records is published. The first impression (print run) is for 50,000 copies and by Christmas has become a bestseller in the UK.
First US edition is published in September as The Guinness Book of Superlatives with a run of 50,000 copies
Second UK edition published in October
First corporate edition published, for Grosvenor Motors Ltd
500,000 books sold to date
First edition with a preface by Norris and Ross Mc Whirter
First French edition is published; second US edition is published, as The Guinness Book of World Records
First German edition is published
First Bantam Books paperback edition is published
1 million books sold across all editions and languages to date
The preface to the 1965 edition states: "It is the first time since 1956 that a new edition has appeared at an interval of only twelve months after its predecessor. Such is the pace of modern record breaking that annual production may well become our rule".
1.5 million copies printed
First Japanese, Spanish, Danish and Norwegian editions are published
The McWhirters found a printing company in Trowbridge, UK - to print the editions; within four years, Redwood is printing 1 in 9 of every book produced in the UK
First Swedish, Finnish, Italian and Southern African editions published
First Facts and Feats book published: Air Facts and Feats
First Dutch edition published
The first series of Record Breakers is filmed for the BBC, hosted by Roy Castle; the first guest is Dr Roger Bannister talking about being the first man to run a mile in under 4 minutes
Broadcaster David Frost acquires TV rights for GWR specials
TheGuinness Book of Records becomes the biggest-selling copyright book in history with sales to date totalling 23,950,000!
First Portuguese edition published
A Guinness Book of Records museum opens in the Empire State Building in New York, USA
First Czech edition published
First licensed product produced: Guinness Game of World Records, launched by Denis Fisher Toys UK
First Canadian edition published
Guinness Book of Answers series launched
First Hebrew, Serbo-Croat, Icelandic and New Zealand editions are published
Guinness Book of British Hit Singles series launched
First Slovenian edition published
Norris McWhirter is awarded the CBE in the New Year's Honours List
First Indonesian edition published
First Chinese edition published
First Turkish edition published
The Records series launched with Rail: The Records, Horse Racing: The Records, Space Flight: The Records and Soccer: The Records
Alan Russell becomes Editor; Norris McWhirter stays on as consultant
The 1987 edition is published in 31 languages, covering more than 3.2 billion of the world's population!
Incorporation of Guinness World Records North America, Inc.
The Guinness Video of Records is launched
60 millionth books sold for charity at a party in HMV Oxford Street, raising £60,000
First Russian edition published
The Guinness Disc of Records launched
First Polish edition published
Guinness Fact Book series launched
Guinness Superlatives renamed as Guinness Publishing Limited
Guinness Book of Records Museum opens in Hollywood
The Diana Ross Commemorative Edition published
Norris McWhirter retires
Guinness World Records opens office in New York, USA
Guinness Book of Answers relaunched as Guinness Book of Knowledge
First original programme broadcast in the US called Guinness World Records Primetime
Guinness Publishing Limited renamed as Guinness World Records (GWR)
The Guinness World Records 2000 book is printed in a single run of 2,402,000 copies, achieving the record of largest single pint run of a case-bound book in colour
First original programme broadcast in the UK, France and Sweden.
guinnessworldrecords.com website launched
First original programme broadcast in Norway, Denmark, Finland and Japan, all called simply Guinness World Records
GWR sold by Diageo to Gullane Entertainment, owners of Thomas the Tank Engine
First original programme broadcast in Spain called Guinness El Show De Los Records
GWR sold to HIT Entertainment, owners of Bob the Builder
First original programme broadcast in Germany called Guinness: Die Show Der Rekorde
100,000,000th copy of Guinness World Records sold!
Craig Glenday joins as Editor-in-Chief
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visits the office and receives a copy of the 50th anniversary edition from GWR CEO Alistair Richards
The GWR Interactive DVD game launches
First annual GWR Day takes place
Records Management Team is formed in London formally offering adjudication services to customers
First original programme broadcast in Australia called Guinness World Records
Records printed on Pringles crisps for the first time!
Michael Jackson visits the office to receive his many GWR certificates, and Craig Glenday presents his award for Thriller with Beyoncé Knowles at the World Music Awards
First original programme broadcast in Italy called Guinness World Records Lo Show Dei Record
Gamer's Edition launches
GWR content on YouTube surpasses 1 million views and GWR launches on Facebook
First original programme broadcast in China.
GWR is sold to the Jim Pattison Group
GWR The Videogame launched for Nintendo Wii
First original programme broadcast called Guinness World Records
Records Management Team USA is created
First original programme broadcast in Greece and Poland called Guinness World Records and in New Zealand New Zealand Smashes Guinness World Records
Office opens in Tokyo, Japan
GWR acheives 100 million YouTube views
GWR appears on China's social network Sina Weibo for the first time
First original programme broadcast in India called Guinness World Records Ab India Todega
Officially Amazing becomes a GWR registered trademark
Office opens in Beijing, China
Records Management Team in Japan is created
1 millionth Facebook friend
Largest audience for a GWR TV show recorded with peak viewing figures of 450 million for Jinisi China Nights (GWR China Nights) with state broadcaster CCTV in China
Office opens in Dubai, Middle East
China Records Management Team is created
First original programme broadcast in Turkey
500,000th subscriber reached on YouTube
GWR's 60th anniversary celebrations begin with the launch of Guinness World Records
Year of the 60th anniversary of Guinness World Records