Grids with pictures have been used in puzzles for many years. Early Crosswords often used pictures as part of their layout: Stephenson's Train (above) is a nice example published in Italy in 1925. Grids using cross reference to deduce the contents also have a long history: Trevor Truran's "Whittleword" from Games & Puzzles Magazine Issue 73 Summer 1979 is one such. However the Griddler type of puzzle is new in the way that the cross-reference is used to calculate the picture on the grid.

In 1987 Graphics editor Non Ishida won a competition in Tokyo to design a picture created by having certain lights on or off in a skyscraper. This lead her to the idea of a puzzle based around filling in certain squares in a grid. In 1988 she published only three picture grid puzzles in Japan using the name "Window Art Puzzles". Mr Tetsuya Nishio at more or less the same time and completely independently also published this type of puzzle in a different magazine.

In 1989 Non Ishida showed James Dalgety her "Window Art Puzzles". James thought the puzzle was wonderful and made an arrangement with Non Ishida to commercialise her designs throughout the world outside Japan. In 1990 James Dalgety invented the name Nonogram after "Non" Ishida and Dia"gram". He successfully persuaded Britain's largest quality national newspaper The Telegraph to start publishing the puzzles weekly in The Sunday Telegraph. After a successful trial period they were carried continuously weekly.

In 1993 Nonograms, mostly by Non Ishida, were seen in the Telegraph and were re-imported by Mainich (one of Japan's biggest newspapers) who started publishing them regularly in Japan. Also in that year the first Japanese book of Nonograms was published by Non Ishida in Japan; and later the same year "The Sunday Telegraph Book of Nonograms" was published in the UK by Pan Books. Nonograms were published in Sweden, United States, South Africa and other countries.

By 1995 Pan Books were publishing the 4th Sunday Telegraph Book of Nonograms. Non Ishida wanted to use the name "Nonogram" exclusively for her own designs in Japan and collaboration with James Dalgety ceased in 1996. In the Summer of 1998 The Sunday Telegraph ran a competition to choose their own name for their puzzle. Griddler was the winning name that readers chose.

In the autumn of 1999 The Sunday Telegraph published the first Griddler Book and has published one per year since.

Puzzles of this type have now appeared on hand held electronic toys, plastic puzzle toys, and in Japan alone there are over 10 regular magazines for this type of puzzle plus many books. The Sunday Telegraph was the first paper in the world to realise the potential of this kind of puzzle and has been publishing them continuously since 1990 - far longer than anyone else.


From the beginning enthusiasts, teachers, and students of programming have found that writing programs to solve these puzzles is a fascinating exercise. Every aspect of programming is involved: File Handling, Graphics, Data storage, Printing, and most importantly the Algorithm. Discussions on programming them, Java applets to solve them, and so on, can be found on sites all over the World Wide Web - Names and Trade Marks to search for include:- CrossPix, Descarte's Enigma, FigurePic, Griddler, IllustLogic, Nonograms, Oekaki-Logic, Paint by Numbers, Picross, PictureLogic, and StarPic.

James Dalgety and Bill Stanton wrote what was possibly the first solving program in 1990. Paradoxically it was designed to use only human logic. Subsequent programs are able to solve much more complex puzzles but the original algorithm is still the one used to check all the puzzles in the Sunday Telegraph. Puzzlers must always be aware when searching for this type of puzzle that some people publish puzzles that cannot be solved honestly by logic. For example: Pictures that require guess work, complex assumptions, or a knowledge of what the object in the picture is going to look like! James & his team of puzzle designers always try to ensure that, whatever the apparent difficulty, their puzzles can always be solved by simple logic - this whilst sometimes difficult to achieve, maximises the solvers fun.

  • Griddler"TM is the Registered Trademark of Telegraph Group 1998
  • Nonogram"TM is the Registered trademark of James Dalgety 1995