Suduko first appeared as a game in the 18th century. It took almost 200 years before it made it into the media.
In 1979 the first Suduko puzzle was published in an American puzzle magazine called Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games where it was called “Number Place”
Then it disappeared back into obscurity in the West, occasionally appearing in puzzle magazines. In 1984 the Monthly Nikolist paper in Japan published the same kind of puzzle under the name Suduko. Other magazines picked up on this puzzle fad, but due to copyright reasons couldn’t call it Suduko.
It was in 1989 Suduko made its first migration to computers. DigitHunt was published on the Commodore 64, bringing Suduko to a whole new audience. In 1995 it appeared on the Apple Macintosh, and then in 1996 on the Palm PDA.
In 1997 Wayne Gould, a retired judge from Hong Kong saw a partly completed puzzle in a Japanese bookshop. He spent the next six year producing a computer program to quickly produce these puzzles.
Wayne knew that the British loved crosswords and puzzles, so he contacted The Times newspaper in London. As he imaged, they leapt upon the idea and on 12th November 2004 published it under the name of Su Doku. Every issue of The Times since this date has contained a Su Doku puzzle.
Su Doku immediately grabbed the attention of the public, and just three days later The Daily Mail published the puzzle, but called it “Codenumber”. On January 19th 2005 The Daily Telegraph published its Sudoku puzzle, which was quickly picked up by other newspapers.
On May 20th 2005, Sudoku made an intercontinental leap and appeared in The Daily Telegraph of Sydney. This massive surge of interest has resulted in Sudoko being called “The fastest growing puzzle in the world”.
Despite being the first publishers of Su Doku, The Times were caught napping my the Daily Telegraph. Whereas The Times hid the puzzle in the middle of the paper, The Telegraph splashed Sudoko over the front page, realising that it was increasing sales. They took advantage of their market lead and published the first Sudoku book before the other papers realised just how popular Sudoku was.
By mid 2005, every paper in Britain contained a Sudoku puzzle and there was no escaping. Even small local papers were getting in on the popularity of the puzzle. The newspapers began to compete with each other, with both The Times and Daily Mail both claiming to be the first to feature this puzzle.
2005 was really the year that Sudoku captured the imagination of the British people. The newspapers published more and more Sudoku puzzles, even Teletext got in on the act. And then finally in July 2005, the satellite channel Sky One hosted the world’s first live TV Sudoku show.
It was during the promotion of this show that Sky One built a 275 foot (84m) square puzzle on a hillside near Chipping Sodbury near Bristol, England. It was next to the M4 motorway and was coincided with a major road expansion which meant drivers were going slower and could safely view the puzzle. Unfortunately for the television show makers, the puzzle had 1,905 correct solutions, not the usual one solution.
Sudoku, as a puzzle, has captured the minds of tens of thousands of people. It’s a puzzle that is here to stay, but be warned, once you pick Sudoku up, you may struggle to put it down again.