Here is some history from Jimmy Goto at the publishing house Nikoli:
"Sudoku Puzzle is not our original puzzle.
We found this puzzle in American puzzle magazine, titled 'Number Place'
And we introduced this puzzle to our Japanese readers at 1984. First our
title of this puzzle is "Suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru" It's means that
number is limited only single (unmarried). But this title is too long,
then it was abbreviated as "Sudoku". So "SU" means number, "DOKU" means
At those days, Sudoku was not so popular.
In 1986, we made a rule for making this puzzle.
1) Digits must be arranged by symmetry pattern.
2) There are under thirty digits on the board.
After our improvement, this puzzle got a big hit.
Now, five publishers are publishing Sudoku magazines every month. Total
circulation will be 660,000. "Sudoku" is Nikoli's registered mark in
Japan. So, other companies call it "Number Place".
Sudoku is the most popular logic puzzle in Japan.
It is very simple to learn, requires no calculations, and provides a
surprisingly wide variety of logic situations."
However, Jimmy does not remember the American magazine that the puzzle
came from. I know from personal memory that the puzzle appeared in Dell's
"Math Problems and Logic Puzzles" in the late 1980s.
Please tell us, if you can, the name of the person who invented the puzzle,
how that person came to invent the puzzle, and the puzzle's first appearance
in print or published form.
Clarification of Question by
12 Apr 2005 19:29 PDT
Sudoku puzzles are Latin squares, but they add the additional
constraint of the 3x3 subsquares. Therefore they are no more invented
by Euler than, say, skyscraper puzzles. We want to know:
Who first came up with the extra 3x3 subsquare constraint?
Who first called them "Number Place" puzzles?
Who first published these puzzles regularly (as opposed to, say,
a one-off design)?
A discussion of how they relate to Latin squares would be interesting
but not worth $120.