History of Sudoku

The founder

A Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783), invented in his last years the puzzle, and he gave it the name "Latin square".

How Euler got the idea, is unknown. However, the concept of Sudoku has existed at lot longer. A similar puzzle is shown in an engraving called the "Melencolia" by Albrecht Dürer from the beginning of the sixteenth century.

These were puzzles which were also known as the Magic Squares. In these squares the sums of the numbers in the columns, rows and diagonals are all the same.


Magic Squares

The first Magic Squares are from China. Chinese literature from 650 BC tells the legend of Lo Shu about the flooding of the river Lo. In ancient China there was a huge flood. The great king Yu had tried to dig a channel into the sea in order to carry out the water.

During the digging sacrifices were made to the river. The sacrifice ritual, however, was always interrupted by a turtle who came crawling out the river. After this has happened a number of times, someone discovered that this turtle had a peculiar pattern on his shield.

It was a figure of round dots which were placed in a grid pattern of three by three, so that the sum of the number of dots in each row, column, and diagonal was equal to 15. This was the first Magic Square.


Sudoku in France

Number puzzles first appeared in newspapers in the late 19th century. French puzzle makers experimented with when removing data from the 'magic squares'.

Le Siècle, a daily newspaper in Paris, showed a magic square of nine by nine squares, instead of three by three on 19 November 1892. However, this was not a Sudoku because there were double digits, and you had to calculate to solve the puzzle. However, this seemed very much like a Sudoku, because they had many elements in common: each row, each column and each block of three by three when added produced the same number.

On July 6, 1895, another French newspaper called La France published number puzzles that more resembled the daily Sudoku. A numeric puzzle of nine by nine boxes, in which each row and column numbers were allowed to appear only once. However, this was not a Sudoku because the nine blocks of three by three, each of which also had to contain the numbers 1 through 9, were not there yet.

This French puzzles were published weekly by several newspapers for about 10 years. However, these puzzles disappeared when the first world war broke out.


Sudoku in the US

According to Will Shortz, an American puzzle creator, the modern Sudoku probably was invented by Howard Garns, a 74-year-old architect in 1979. His puzzles were published by Dell Magazines under the name "Number Place". Howard Garns died in 1989, he died before his puzzles were a global phenomenon. It is not clear whether Garns has ever seen the French puzzles which were mentioned above.


Japan, now it becomes Sudoku

The Howard's puzzles were introduced in 1984 in Japan as Suuji by Nikoli, the Japanese puzzle company. Some time later the name Suuji was changed into Sudoku by Maki Kaji, the director of Nikoli.

The name Sudoku is a contraction of 'Suuji wa ni dokushin kagiru', which can be translated as numbers remain alone ('su' means number, "doku" means independent, unmarried). Since 1986 became Sudoku extremely popular in Japan.


Sudoku in Europe

In 1997, Wayne Gould,a New Zealand retired, saw a sudoku puzzle and then worked for six years at a computer program to make Sudoku puzzles. He sold the whole thing to the Times which began publishing the puzzles on November 12, 2004. A new craze was born.

In the summer of 2005 the puzzle was introduced in the Netherlands and soon experienced great popularity, partly because many newspapers started publishing Sudoku on a daily base.