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The Colorful History of Sudoku

People today tend to marvel at the accomplishments of ancient civilizations, such as demonstrated by the pyramids of Egypt. Those ancient people had such creativity and intelligence, and they did not have TV or radio to entertain themselves. Instead, they relied upon their minds for entertainment, creativity, and solutions to problems.

From time to time, when we find the regular media is rather dull, or we feel that our minds need a bit of a workout, we will turn to brain twisters and riddles, or crossword puzzles. It is one of the ways that we explore our thought processes, and how we encourage our own creative side. Without riddles and puzzles, our brains become rather dull themselves. All people have a deep need for activities that shape the mind and help us develop new ideas and concepts.

Many ancient games have been modernized, or simply repackaged, for a modern audience. Others have had a few tweaks to make them more relevant to today's world. Sudoku may have been played centuries ago, and its simple design can be inviting to newcomers, but there are layers in abundance here.

The game also has a fascinating history. First published in 1979 in an American puzzle game book, it was likely invented by veteran puzzle creator Howard Garns. Japanese publishers brought it there a few years later, and gave it a new name, meaning "the digits must remain single", which was later shortened to Sudoku. Japanese players instantly loved the game, and after 1984, it began its long rise to world domination. Millions of adherents around the world have improved their mental agility by playing Sudoku rather than staring at mindless TV shows.

Sudoku was created by Howard Garns at the end of his career as a puzzle maker. A retired architect, Garns enjoyed making puzzles as a freelancer, and he knew how to make a great one. He based it on the Latin Square puzzle work by Euler, an ancient game that Garns improved by adding a third dimension. With the addition of a partially completed grid, Garns had a winner on his hands that players immediately loved.

The history of Sudoku took another twist in Japan. After Howard Garns introduced the first Sudoku puzzle in a U. S. magazine, a person named Nikoli in Japan picked it up. While Mr. Garns had his own English name for the puzzle, Nikoli gave it the Japanese name Sudoku.

Originally, Sudoku was played manually in Japanese and American publications. In 1989, Loadstar Publishing introduced a computerized version, followed by another version by Apple. Sudoku has also been fashioned into a version of another popular 1980's puzzle, the Rubik's Cube.

Sudoku reached huge global popularity by 1997, and a Hong Kong resident named Wayne Gould created a computer program to create the game, which can spit out thousands of variations in short time. He later developed a business selling the puzzles around the world.

Newspapers in many countries began printing Sudoku puzzles, and they would sell out for that reason alone. Some analysts stated that Sudoku was the world's fasted growing puzzle, and it perhaps peaked in popularity in 2005.

Knowing something of the history of Sudoku adds a nice touch to this enjoyable pastime. From its beginnings in the ancient world, to adaptation using modern computers, to global acceptance, Sudoku has come a long way in a short time. Thanks to Howard Garns for creating a puzzle that brings pleasure and brain stimulation to millions of people every day.

Terence Uniacke enjoys writing for a variety of online magazines, on creative recreation and hobby lobby issues.






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