So, where did sudoku originate, who invented it and when did it become popular?
These are in many ways difficult questions to answer as it depends on how rigid you want to be about what actually constitutes a sudoku puzzle and what is just a number puzzle, or a very similar forerunner to the game you see today.
Sudoku really evolved out of a long tradition of pencil and paper puzzles dating back into the mists of time. The origins of sudoku can be traced back to magic squares which date back as far as China around 1000 BC and perhaps earlier. The history of Sudoku as a modern game however is much more recent.
The first time a recognisable sudoku puzzle appeared however was in the late 1970's when a freelance puzzle creator called Howard Garnes created a puzzle he termed "Number Place" which was published in 1979 in a puzzle magazine from Dell Magazines.
It wasn't until the mid 80's however, when the japanese company Nikoli published their number puzzle entitled "suji wa dokushin ni kagiru" (literal translation: "single, celibate, unmarried" or "the numbers must be single") which later became abbreviated to sudoku from 'su' meaning 'number' and 'doku' meaning 'single'.
Sudoku was named by the president of Nikoli, Kaji Maki, and was first released into the Monthly Nikolist in 1984, becoming just Sudoku in 1986.
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