One thousand free copies of the Guinness World Records were first published in August 1954, under the original name of The Guinness Book of Records. Compiled and edited by Norris and Ross McWhirter (owners of a London fact checking agency) who were hired by Sir Hugh Beaver, the then managing director of the Guinness Brewery.
Beaver wanted a world record reference book that could be used (among other purposes) to settle arguments and debates over trivia in pubs around the world. Apparently, Beaver had been debating in a pub what was the fastest game bird in Europe when he thought up the idea for the Guinness World Records.
The first 197-page commercial edition was bound on 27 August 1955 and was on the British bestsellers' list.