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Cross Examination

March 18, 1990

In his review of "World Almanac Crossword Puzzles From the 1920s" (Book Review, Feb. 11) Charles Solomon writes: "No one knows when or where the first crossword puzzle was developed. . . ."

It's a well-documented fact that the first modern crossword puzzle was compiled by Arthur Wynn for the Fun section of the New York World. The puzzle appeared in the Dec. 21, 1913, issue of the paper and was called a word-cross. The term crossword developed much later.

Crossword puzzles became an immediate fad with readers of the World, but it was 10 years before other newspapers took advantage of their popularity as circulation builders. And it wasn't until 1924 that Simon & Schuster published the first book of crossword puzzles, a runaway best seller.

Today, about 50 million Americans are cruciverbalists--crossword puzzle fans. Latin students will recognize the word as a derivation of the words crux and verbum, meaning, respectively, cross and word.

LARRY JONAS STUDIO CITY

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