December 21, 1913: First crossword published
Countless people have enjoyed their Sunday morning cup of coffee while doing the newspaper crossword. It’s a tradition that’s now been around for over a hundred years, dating back to the very first crossword published in a newspaper on December 21, 1913.
New fun on Sunday
Back in the early 20th century, there was no Internet to get your fill of the latest news. Printed newspapers were the main source for the public to find out what was going on in the world.
On December 21, 1913, the New York World newspaper published something no one had ever seen before: journalist Arthur Wynne’s “Word-Cross” puzzle. It appeared in the Sunday edition of the New York World.
Mistake catches on
The “Word-Cross” puzzle was a diamond-shaped puzzle of empty boxes with 31 clues for the words to be filled in. As the puzzle gained popularity, it was mistakenly called a “Cross-Word” and has been known by its misnamed moniker ever since.
Soon, other newspapers were publishing their own versions of the crossword puzzles. By the 1920s, America had fallen in love with the crossword. In 1924 the first book of crossword puzzles was released. It even came with its own pencil so readers could start solving right away!
Challenging puzzles to this day
Ironically, the famed New York Times crossword puzzle didn’t exist back in the day. The editors at the paper believed the puzzles were nothing more than a “primitive form of mental exercise”. The Times, however, did eventually catch onto the craze and millions now look forward to its famous Sunday crossword puzzle.
The popularity of crossword puzzles led newspapers to publish other brain teasers, from word-search puzzles to Sodoku, a fill-in-the-numbers game that was a Japanese sensation before making it big in America. Along with crossword puzzles, readers have plenty of ways to exercise their brains whenever they open up the newspaper.