How Crossword Puzzles Came to Be

Solving crossword puzzles is one of the most “indulged in” activities for people who love mind games. This is because this game is reported to be good for the mind since it encourages intellectual stimulation.

Today, more and more doctors recommend solving crossword puzzles to people who are getting older so they would avoid developing Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorder caused by old age. Medical experts also recommend this activity for kids because it is believed to contribute so much to their development such as their cognitive skills.

But, wouldn’t it be interesting to know what is crossword puzzle like before and compare it to the crossword puzzle that we know of today?


In 1913, Arthur Wynne, a writer for New York World’s Game Page was the one who introduced the game to the public. He was tasked to come up with a game for the Special Christmas Edition of the newspaper. He came up with so many types of games but he ended up with a variation of ‘word squares’ which he used to play with his grandfather. had taught him when he was a boy. The original wold game contained words in the square and one has to read the same word in horizontal and vertical manner.

To give it a refreshing twist, Wynne came up with the “ACROSS” words which were entirely different from the “DOWN” words. This design became more challenging because the solver has to work on not just with one word but two words with one common letter on them.

In its debut on the December 21 issue, the puzzle was called “Word-Cross”. Many people were challenged by the new game and the newspaper received so many feed backs that they had to run it for three consecutive Sundays. After a month, typesetters had a mistake in typing the title and was published as “Cross-Word” instead of “Word-Cross.” But instead of receiving bad comments on the mistake, it has received more praises because many think it was more appropriate.

However, despite of its success, the newspaper tried to drop it after a few months because the editors were having a hard time on it because these are hard to print and it prone to typographical and other errors. But, when the readers did not saw puzzles in their copies, the unexpected happened: they rallied to the newspaper building. So hostile the people’s reactions were the World had to take back their decision and made the “Cross-Word” a permanent feature on the page. In the next ten years, only the World was the one who carried and printed the crossword puzzles.

Another important development on the crossword puzzles came in 1924 when Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster decided to publish a book that served as a compilation of crossword puzzles. The copies of the book were sold like hotcakes the first day it was out in the market and by 1925, more than 300,000 crossword books were sold to the public. This gave birth to Simon & Schuster as one of the major publishers that world know of today.

But the craze over the crossword also led to some unfortunate events such that made it less popular. Crimes were committed due to addiction to crossword and a person who committed suicide used it as a note to solve his case. Despite all those, crossword puzzles were able to revive itself and continues to be among the top mental exercises that most people indulge in today.