Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Tiffany. Tiffany Wonders, “Who invented puzzles?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Tiffany!
Do you love puzzles? Today, there are thousands and thousands of different types of puzzles. From jigsaw puzzles and Sudoku to crossword puzzles and anagrams, there's no shortage of brain benders out there to fill your time.
Most kids love a variety of different kinds of puzzles. They're just fun to do in your spare time. But they can also be very educational. In fact, puzzles may seem like they're just for fun, but they got their start as educational tools.
Way back in 1760, a mapmaker from London named John Spilsbury created the first jigsaw puzzle. He mounted one of his handmade maps onto a thin sheet of wood and cut around the borders of the countries with a saw.
The result was an educational tool that he used to help children learn geography. His invention caught on and, for the next 60 years or so, jigsaw puzzles were mainly used as educational tools. If you've ever done a puzzle of the United States where you had to fit all the states into their proper spots, you've done a puzzle similar to the first puzzles invented hundreds of years ago.
Over time, jigsaw puzzles developed into a fun pastime that went beyond just educational value. In the late 1800s, cardboard puzzles were developed. Wooden puzzles continued to be more popular for a time, but cheaper cardboard puzzles eventually grew in popularity.
In the 1920s and 1930s, many companies began to manufacture a wide variety of jigsaw puzzles with interesting artwork. More difficult puzzles were created to appeal to adults as well as children. Puzzles also began to be used as giveaways to introduce people to new products.
In 1932, some companies began to produce weekly jigsaw puzzles. What began with a small initial supply soon grew to hundreds of thousands of new puzzles each week.
Although it was during the Great Depression, these puzzles sold well, perhaps because they provided a lot of entertainment for a small price. In addition, they could be shared with friends and family members. Some experts believe the process of solving a puzzle may have helped reduce some of the stress of the Great Depression, too.
Today, people enjoy puzzles just as much as they did decades ago. Modern technology has evolved and, with it, so have puzzles. You can now do all sorts of puzzles on smartphones and tablet computers!