Arthur Wynne (a Brit, actually) invented the contemporary American crossword puzzle; it appeared in the New York World on 12.21.1913 and became wildly popular. By the 1920s, folks had become so obsessed with solving the puzzles that appeared in more and more newspapers that workplace productivity actually declined. So the inventor of computer Solitaire can take some comfort in knowing that people have always looked for a way to spend company time not on company business, and perhaps feel less guilty.
While today the New York Times is the definitive source of crossword puzzlery, crosswords didn’t appear in the Times until 1942. In fact, in 1924, the NYT described crossword puzzles as a “sinful waste… futile finding of words… not a game at all… [solvers] get nothing out of it.” And now NYT puzzlemaster is the king of crosswords; the world, it turns.