December 21, 1913 The New York World newspaper publishes the first ever example of a crossword. The diamond-shaped puzzle (see picture) was created by Liverpool-born immigrant Arthur Wynne, who based his invention on much older games played in the Roman Empire. As Wynne developed the game, he added black squares to arrange words in rows and columns within a square. Originally he called it the ‘Word-Cross Puzzle’ but a typesetting error led to this becoming ‘Crossword.’ Wynne died in Florida in 1945, aged 83. His invention continues to thrive however and are now among the most popular and widespread games in the world. The biggest ever crossword, according to the Guinness Book of Records, contained 160,000 squares.
*Also on December 21:*Pierre and Marie Curie discover Radium (1898); premiere of the first full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937); the Lockerbie bombing- Pan Am flight 103 explodes over Scotland (1988); Elton John and David Furnish become one of the first gay couples to enter a civil partnership in the UK (2005).
Born on December 21: Jane Fonda (1937), Hu Jintao (1942), Samuel L. Jackson (1948), Florence Griffith-Joyner (1959), Kiefer Sutherland (1966), Mikhail Saakashvili (1967).