Piecing together the history of puzzles: the accidental puzzle inventors

You have to be ingenious to solve a puzzle so think how clever you have to be to devise one which captures the public’s imagination!

Today, games and puzzles are seen as vital ways of sharpening our brain cells – not only are games and puzzles fun, they have also been credited with warding off memory loss.

You can see people playing puzzles on their mobile phones while travelling on buses and trains, and during their work breaks. What did we do before games and puzzles – it really is a puzzle!

Arts and crafts company Yellow Moon has plenty of classic puzzles andboard games for kids such as Sudoku, bingo, dominoes, Where’s Wally and noughts and crosses – activities which can keep children happily entertained for hours on end. Many of these games have great educational qualities – improving children’s teamwork and their mathematical and language skills and introducing them to the concept of good sporting behaviour.

The invention of the jigsaw puzzle

Mapmaker John Spilsbury was the man who thought of and made the first jigsaw; attaching a map on a sheet of wood and then painstakingly sawing around individual countries. He came up with the idea in 1760: the puzzle was intended for educational purposes and there is little sign that its inventor realised  just how much fun jigsaws would afford people over the years.

The Rubik’s Cube

While it is disappointing that the jigsaw wasn’t invented by a Mr Jigsaw, it is good to know that the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube was invented by a Mr Rubik.

When Hungarian professor of architecture Erno Rubik first designed the 3x3x3 prototype version in the mid-1970s, it was to solve the problem of moving the parts independently without the mechanism falling apart. It only dawned on him that he had created a brilliant puzzle when he scrambled his new cube and then tried to restore it to its original state.


Sudoku has a Japanese name (it means ‘single number’) and was first popularised by a Japanese puzzle company. Yet, it…

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