The crossword puzzle
began in 1913, when Arthur Wynne was trying to think up new word games
for the entertainment page of the Christmas edition of New York World magazine.
It was a variation on a game called "word squares" his grandfather had
taught him, where each word in the puzzle had to read the same both vertically
The puzzles were popular, but magazine and newspaper editors hated them. They were difficult to print and easy to make errors in the fine-print clue section, so for the next ten years, if you wanted to work a crossword puzzle, you had to buy New York World. Then, in 1924, a young Columbia University graduate named Richard Simon had dinner at his aunt's house and his aunt asked him where she could buy a book of crossword puzzles for her daughter.
The answer was that
she couldn't. No book existed. Simon, however, at that time was trying
to break into the publishing business with college chum M. Lincoln Shuster.
They went to the offices of New York World magazine and paid them $25 apiece
for their most popular crossword
By the end of the year more than 300,000 copies had been sold, and Simon & Shuster had become a major publishing company. Today they are the largest publishing house in the United States and second largest in the world. All because of the humble crossword puzzle.
Below, you can see
(and try your hand at) the world's very first