The History of the USA Crossword puzzle
In 1921, Dick Simon connected with Max Schuster. Both were graduates of Columbia University.
but had not known each other while at college as they were three years apart in class. They
grew to become friends and decided, sometime in 1923, to go into the publishing business together.
Their adventure began in January, 1924. In accordance to legend, they got the idea to publish
crosswords from a casual conversation in which they noticed that one of Simon’s cousins
loved the puzzles in the World very much and desired more. The truth was not quite so
serendipitous, however: Both men worked actively and in business like fashion in order to develop
potential book ideas, and it was extremely likely Franklin P. Adams, who happened to be a friend
of Simon and who often wrote about crossword puzzles in his New York World column,
who first proposed a puzzle book.
Simon and Schuster were worried that they might be hooted out of the publishing
business after only a couple of months in it, and so, when the book was published on April 1 ,
1924, it carried the title Plaza Publishing Company on the title page. “Plaza” which was the
telephone exchange at Simon and Schuster’s offices.
The first printing copies of The Cross Word Puzzle Book sold out quickly.
Simon and Schuster emerged from the “Plaza” fa de, and by the end of 1924 they had several
books in the bestseller list. For good luck, and for emotional reasons, the name Plaza
continued to be on the title page of the puzzle books for several years. Simon and Schuster, success
assured, expanded into other publishing avenues. The three creditors carried on to compile
puzzle books-to the delight of millions of eager buyers.
On May 18, 1924, six weeks after the first book’s publication, a number of three hundred
people met in New York City and set up the Cross Word Puzzle Association of America.
Joseph E. Austrian was elected president. During that meeting William A. Stem” solved a puzzle
of eleven rows and columns (now commonly written” ll x ll “) in a little over ten minutes,
thereby winning the “Cross Word Puzzle Championship of the World.”
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