Back when D&D turned 40 in 2014, I put up a post about the date I favored for celebrating its anniversary: the last Sunday in January. Today, January 27, is the last Sunday in January 2019, and the day that I will be tipping a glass to Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and the many others who made D&D possible 45 years ago. Above is an excerpt from a letter that Gygax sent to Arneson -- as it reads, just days away from the printing.
I've noticed that a few people have adopted January 26 as the anniversary of the publication of D&D, as that happened to be the last Sunday in the month of January back in 2014. I favor a Sunday because it was on Sundays that Gygax invited people to come to his house to trial the game, as I mentioned in my earlier post. But my whole point was that there isn't a lot of precision to be found in dating the release, so celebrating a few days earlier or later doesn't do any harm from my perspective.
Speaking of a few days later - a couple years after the release of D&D, when TSR finally got around to registering the game with the copyright office, their filing gave a date of January 30, 1974.
Does that mean it was out then? Or just available for order? Or is it just another date that was picked retrospectively to reflect the game's availability around January?
The way I see things today, I think it's unlikely many people had copies of the game in hand before February. But still, the last Sunday in January is the day I at least honor the anniversary. Think back to when Gygax wrote those words above, about D&D being just days away from printing... and just how far the game has come since.