History of Crossword Puzzles

A newspaper crossword puzzle being filled in
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A crossword puzzle is a game of words where the player is given a hint and the number of letters. The player then fills in a grid of boxes by finding the right words. Liverpool journalist, Arthur Wynne invented the first crossword puzzle.

Arthur Wynne

Arthur Wynne was born on June 22, 1871, in Liverpool, England. He immigrated to the United States at the age of nineteen. He first lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and worked for the Pittsburgh Press newspaper. An interesting side-note was that Wynne also played violin in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Later, Arthur Wynne moved to Cedar Grove, New Jersey and started working for a New York City-based newspaper called the New York World. He wrote the first crossword puzzle for the New York World, published on Sunday, December 21, 1913. The editor had asked Wynne to invent a new game for the paper's Sunday entertainment section.

Word-Cross to Cross-Word to Crossword

Arthur Wynne's first crossword puzzle was initially called word-cross and was diamond-shaped. The name later switched to cross-word, and then as a result of an accidental typo the hyphen was dropped and the name became crossword.

Wynne based his crossword puzzle on a similar but much older game played in ancient Pompeii that translated from Latin to English was called Magic Squares. In Magic Squares, the player is given a group of words and has to arrange them on a grid so that the words read the same way across and down. A crossword puzzle is very similar, except instead of being given the words the player is given clues.

Arthur Wynne added other innovations to the crossword puzzle. While the first puzzle was diamond-shaped, he later invented horizontal and vertical shaped puzzles; and Wynne invented the use of adding blank black squares to a crossword puzzle.

The crossword puzzle in a British publication was published in Pearson's Magazine in February 1922. The first New York Times crossword was published on February 1, 1930.

First Book of Crossword Puzzles

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the first collection of crossword puzzles was published in the USA in 1924. Called The Cross Word Puzzle Book was the first publication by a new partnership formed by Dick Simon and Lincoln Schuster. The book, a compilation of crossword puzzles from the newspaper New York World, was an instant success and helped to establish publishing giant Simon & Schuster, who continue to produce crossword books to this day.

Crossword Weaver

In 1997, Crossword Weaver was patented by Variety Games Inc. Crossword Weaver was the first computer software program that created crossword puzzles.

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Bellis, Mary. "History of Crossword Puzzles." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/history-of-crossword-puzzles-1991486. Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 27). History of Crossword Puzzles. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-crossword-puzzles-1991486 Bellis, Mary. "History of Crossword Puzzles." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-crossword-puzzles-1991486 (accessed October 22, 2021).