VitaminQ - a temple of trivia lists and curious words
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~ Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Some highlights from Singmaster's Chronology of Recreational Mathematics, a list recording dates of innovations, publications and other items of note to do with mathematical puzzles, games and quandaries.
-1800? Old Babylonian tablet - first Sliding Spear.
-1700? Phoenician Puzzle Jugs in Cyprus.
-330 Eubulides - first Liar Paradox and other logical paradoxes: The Heap; Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife?
-325 Euclid - first Ass and Mule Problem.
-285 Philetas of Cos - died from considering Liar Paradox.
c-280 The Stoics invent The Crocodile and Baby Paradox.
-50 Roman Lex Falcidia leads to inheritance problems, particularly Posthumous Twins Problem.
50 St. Paul: Epistle to Titus I, 12 - mentions All Cretans Are Liars.
c250 Diophantos: Arithmetica - first Each Doubles Others' Money; first Men Find a Purse.
7C The Game of Promotion - a Chinese version of Snakes and Ladders.
c7C? Bakhshali Manuscript - 100 Fowls Problem; first Present of Gems; first Dishonest Butler; first Snail Climbing out of Well.
10C Europeans learn chess from north Africa, probably via Moorish Spain. The word 'mate' is recorded in Latin before 1000.
969 Emperor Mu-tsung is reported to have played cards with his wives - the earliest reference to playing cards. However, it is evident that these were the 'domino' cards still in use in China.
11C False dice, with two ones, were made.
c1240 Abbot Albert, in Annales Stadenses - first Jug Problem.
1500 Pacioli: De Viribus - first One Pile Game; first Binary Divination; first European Blind Abbess and Her Nuns; first Rearrangement on a Cross; first River Crossing with bigger boats; .
1598 First go tournament in Japan, sponsored by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
c1610 Shakespeare: Midsummer Night's Dream - mentions Nine Men's Morris.
1611 Kepler: The Six-Cornered Snowflake.
c1700 St. Ives rhyme is well known.
1733 Buffon invents Buffon's Needle Problem.
1748 Ladies' Diary gives a Tethered Goat Problem.
c1800 A French dice game was introduced to New Orleans and develops into craps.
1800-10 Tangram craze in Europe and China.
c1818 Endless Amusement.
c1820 Babbage is first to write about Tic-Tac-Toe and first to attempt analysis of a game.
1821 Jackson: Rational Amusement for Winter Evenings - first Configuration Problems; first Missionaries and Cannibals problem; North Pole problems; first Dissect Circle into Two Hollow Ovals.
1848 Bezzel proposes Eight Queens Problem.
1850s Matchstick puzzles begin.
1857 The Magician's Own Book - first Dead Dogs.
1857 Early version of Spots on Foreheads.
1859 The Secret Out.
1871 First appearance of a Bug Problem, in a Cambridge Tripos.
1881 Cassell's Book - first Removing Waistcoat without Removing Coat.
1883 Hunter and Squirrel problem discussed in Knowledge.
1891 Everett patents Loony Loop.
1893 Lewis Carroll's Monkey Problem.
1902 Dudeney: Lady Isabel's Casket begins development leading to Squaring the Square.
1914 Loyd: Cyclopedia - Mrs Perkins' Quilt; first Selling, Buying and Selling Same Item; first Bookworm's Distance; first Circling an Army problem.
1931? Dudeney's Perplexities column ends with his death.
1935-39 Fairy Chess Review has a number of polyomino problems.
1936 Cigarette Butts problem occurs.
1944 Steinhaus asks How to Divide a Cake Fairly.
1967 Gardner gives first description of Conway's Sprouts.
c1974 Penrose invents Penrose Pieces.
1978 Rubik's Cube first starts to become known outside Hungary.
1992 Sallows devises Pangrams and Reflexicons.
Source: The full list is widely available on the internet