Snooker in its modern form originated in the latter half of the 19th century.Billiards had been a popular activity amongst British Army officers stationed in India, and variations on the more traditional billiard games were devised. One variation, devised in the officers' mess in Jabalpur during 1874 or 1875, was to add coloured balls in addition to the reds and black which were used for pyramid pool and life pool.The rules were formally finalised in 1884 by Sir Neville Chamberlain at Ooty.The word snooker also has military origins, being a slang term for first-year cadets and inexperienced personnel.One version of events states that Chamberlain, of the Devonshire regiment, was playing this new game when his opponent failed to pot a ball and Chamberlain called him a snooker. It thus became attached to the billiards game now bearing its name as inexperienced players were labelled as "snookers".
Snooker grew in popularity in England but generally it was still a game for the gentry, and many well established gentlemen's clubs which had a billiards table would not allow non-members inside to play. To accommodate the popularity of the game, smaller and more open snooker-specific clubs started to be formed.
A major advance occurred in 1969, when David Attenborough commissioned the snooker tournament Pot Black to demonstrate the potential of colour television, with the green table and multi-coloured balls being ideal for showing off the advantages of colour broadcasting.The TV series became a ratings success and was for a time the second most popular show on BBC Two.Interest in the game increased and the 1978 World Snooker Championship was the first to be fully televised.The game quickly became a mainstream game in the UK, Ireland and much of the Commonwealth and has enjoyed much success in the last 30 years, with most of the ranking tournaments being televised. In 1985 a total of 18.5 million viewers watched the concluding frame of the world championship final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis.The loss of tobacco sponsorship during the 2000s led to a decrease in the number of professional tournaments, although some new sponsors were sourced; and the popularity of the game in the Far East and China, with emerging talents such as Liang Wenbo and more established players such as Ding Junhui and Marco Fu, boosted the sport in that part of the world.