On December 21, 1913, The New York World's 'Fun' page published the first crossword puzzle. It was created in the 1890s by British writer Arthur Wynne, who immigrated to the United States. .
On December 21, 1913, The New York World's 'Fun' page published the first crossword puzzle. It was created in the 1890s by British writer Arthur Wynne, who immigrated to the United States.
Other publications caught up on the hobby in the early 1920s. According to the crossword editor of the New York Times, "Solving crosswords eliminates worries; they make you a calmer and more focused person." The first British crossword puzzle was published in Pearson's Magazine in February 1922, and these versions were considered more difficult than their American equivalents.
The history of crossword puzzles dates back to the late 19th century and involves several notable figures and developments. Here's a brief overview of the history behind crossword puzzles:
Word Square Puzzles: The origins of crossword puzzles can be traced back to word square puzzles, which were popular in ancient Rome and China. These puzzles consisted of arranging words or letters into a square grid so that they read the same horizontally and vertically.
Arthur Wynne and the First Crossword: The modern crossword puzzle is credited to Arthur Wynne, a British-born journalist who immigrated to the United States. In December 1913, Wynne created a word puzzle for the "Fun" section of the Sunday edition of the New York World newspaper. This puzzle, known as a "word-cross," resembled a diamond-shaped grid with clues to fill in the words.
Popularity and Evolution: The word-cross puzzle by Arthur Wynne garnered much attention and quickly became popular among readers. The puzzle's format evolved over time, with the diamond shape eventually transforming into a square grid with black squares to separate words. The name "crossword" also emerged as a contraction of "word-cross."
Simon & Schuster and Crossword Books: In 1924, Richard Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster published the first book of crossword puzzles, titled "The Cross Word Puzzle Book." The book's success helped solidify the crossword puzzle's popularity and spurred the production of numerous crossword puzzle books in subsequent years.
Crossword Craze and Cultural Impact: In the 1920s and 1930s, crossword puzzles gained significant popularity, becoming a cultural phenomenon. Newspapers started including regular crossword puzzle sections, and people across different age groups and backgrounds eagerly solved puzzles. The crossword puzzle craze had a considerable impact on the publishing industry and the way people engaged with language and wordplay.
Innovations and Variations: Over time, crossword puzzles underwent further innovations and variations. Developments such as themed puzzles, cryptic clues, and different grid designs expanded the possibilities and challenges within the crossword puzzle genre.
Crosswords in the Digital Age: With the advent of computers and the internet, crossword puzzles became widely available online. Dedicated crossword puzzle websites, digital applications, and software programs allowed enthusiasts to solve puzzles electronically and access a vast collection of puzzles from various sources.
After readers began writing to the paper to report their times completing the cryptic crossword, The Daily Telegraph decided to hold a competition to see who could best the mark of 12 minutes. As a consequence, 25 contestants were invited to the newsroom of the publication to test their speeds.
The first participant finished the problem in 6 minutes 3.5 seconds but was disqualified because he misspelled a word, while the winner finished in 7 minutes 57.5 seconds and received a cigarette lighter. Following that, the War Office approached competitors, believing that their expertise might be valuable as cryptographers for code-breaking efforts at Bletchley Park.
Later in the war, The Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle got involved in covert intelligence operations. In the days leading up to D-Day, June 6, 1944, the five code phrases for the Normandy invasion beaches and operation names surfaced in crossword puzzles, raising MI5's suspicions of espionage.
Leonard Dawe, the creator of all the crosswords, appears to have been the headmaster of The Strand School; he and his students may have overheard some of the Canadian and American personnel stationed in the vicinity mention the phrases in conversation. They provided him with ideas for crossword clues because they were short and somewhat unusual terms.
Dawe was detained and interviewed before being absolved of any wrongdoing - many stories of how the incident came about have emerged over the years, but the issue remains unsolved. It was proposed that, in the dismal days following the war, crossword puzzles be placed in ration booklets to pass the time spent queuing for food, which was still in limited supply.
Crossword puzzles remain popular in the modern era, and they have adapted to various formats and platforms. Crossword puzzles are still a staple feature in many newspapers and magazines. Daily or weekly puzzles are published, offering solvers a range of difficulty levels. These print puzzles often have standardized formats, such as American-style crosswords with square grids and black squares.
The digital age has brought about the proliferation of online crossword platforms. Dedicated websites and applications provide access to a vast collection of crossword puzzles from various sources. These platforms often offer interactive solving experiences, allowing users to input answers directly and receive real-time feedback.
Many newspapers and puzzle publishers offer digital subscriptions that provide access to their crossword puzzles online. Subscribers can solve puzzles on their computers, tablets, or smartphones, enjoying the convenience of digital solving and the ability to access a wide range of puzzle archives.