- Kaji first created Nikoli as a puzzle magazine in 1980 and founded the company three years later, according to The Mainichi. He served as chief executive until July.
- Nikoli will hold a memorial gathering for Kaji at a later date. Details will be announced on the company’s official website.
- Sudoku’s origins are disputed. Some attribute the puzzle’s invention to 18th-century Swiss mathematician Euler, while some say it came from China to the Arab world in the 8th or 9th century, according to The New York Times.
- Kaji first came across the puzzle in 1984 in an American magazine called “Number Place.” This modern version of the game was created by U.S. architect Howard Garns.
- Kaji wanted to create a Japanese name for the puzzle and reportedly came up with “Sudoku” in just 25 seconds while on his way to a horse race. He has since revised the game’s design, and by 2004, it started receiving worldwide recognition.
- For Kaji, it only mattered that more people can enjoy the game. “I did not become a millionaire, but I’m glad Sudoku is now loved by billions of people,” he said at a 2008 championship. “I enjoy my staff saying they are proud of their job, I enjoy a glass of wine with my wife every night, and I enjoy horse racing every weekend. I am very much satisfied with the way I am.”
- Kaji traveled to more than 30 countries to spread the puzzle. Meanwhile, Sudoku championships have drawn around 200 million people from 100 countries, according to the Associated Press via NPR.
- The late creator, however, did not want to be just the “Godfather of Sudoku.” “I’d like to spread the fun of puzzles until I’m known as the person who established the puzzle genre in Japan,” he said in a recent interview, as per The Mainichi.
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