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History of Head Scratchers

Updated on June 25, 2017


In 1913, the New York Word published a word cross devised by Arthur Wynne of Liverpool, England. It was an instant hit, but other newspapers were slow to follow suit. In 1924, a new publishing company called Simon & Schuster came out with a book of crosswords, igniting a nationwide craze.

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The first English version of the puzzle where you find and circle words was published in 1968. Norman E. Gibat designed it for a want ad digest in Noman, Oklahoma. he arranged the names of 34 Oklahoma cities horizontally, vertically and diagonally in a grid. Area teachers started using the puzzles in their classrooms, and soon they were being syndicated nationally.


The puzzle's name is Japanese but its origins are European and American. In the 1700s, Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler created a grid game called Latin Squares, where numbers appeared only once in each row and column. Fast forward to the 1970s, when Dell Magazines published Howard Garns' Number Place game, which was inspired by Euler's puzzle. In the 1980s, the puzzles took Japan by storm, and sudoku fever gradually worked its way back to the U.S. By 2005, most U.S. daily newspapers were offering a sudoju.


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