Meet Oskar van Deventer and Wei-Hwa Huang, the inventors of Daily Puzzle, ThinkFun’s newest brainteaser!
Daily Puzzle wan’t born overnight… here Oskar and Wei-Hwa share the story of how they collaboratively developed this innovative puzzle over the course of several years!
Oskar: In July 1986, I designed a single-digit three-leaf version of this puzzle that could make 0-9. There was no black background. I added a single-digit two-leaf version for making 0-3, again without the need of a black background. Together, the five leaves could make 00-39, enough to make all days of a month.
Wei-Hwa: Nick Baxter and I were visiting Oskar at his house in the Netherlands (October 2003), and Oskar was telling us about the many puzzle ideas he had. One of the ideas was this “digital” version of the classic “calendar cubes” puzzle (which, if you haven’t seen, is a set of two cubes that you can use to display the numbers from 01 to 31)… but Oskar couldn’t actually find a working arrangement. We went to bed that night, and in the morning I had a working arrangement for Oskar.
Oskar: When Wei-Hwa visited me in October 2003, I showed this puzzle to Wei-Hwa and asked him to improve it. Overnight, he developed a two-digit four-leaf design that took advantage of the black background. This puzzle was shared by Tanya Thompson at the International Puzzle Party (IPP) in 2008 as “Daily Puzzle.”
Wei-Hwa: At this point I thought — well, the “calendar cubes” puzzle has a lesser known cousin which spells out the first three letters of the month. Why can’t the same equivalent happen for our puzzle? One night later I had the basic design for the month names. The challenge was quite different, of course, because this was about giving the pictures a “look” of a segmented digital display while not actually being a consistent set of segments.
Oskar: In March 2009, I asked Wei-Hwa to also design a Monthly Puzzle with JAN-DEC which I prototyped. Wei-Hwa made some detailed improvements on the letter design, rounding and sharpening where needed, and that version became Tanya’s IPP gift for 2009.
During the next two years, ThinkFun worked to find the right form and price for a mass-produced version that combined the two puzzles. The first deluxe version looked superb, but it was too expensive and it did neither fit in a toy store nor in a stationary store. Then ThinkFun simplified the design, reducing the cost and achieving the current great looks of the puzzle!
Oskar shared the following message when he received a case of Daily Puzzles last month – love the idea of personalizing the puzzle with a special date for a gift!
I cannot describe how happy it makes me to see this puzzle finally to the public. When I made the original design in July 1986, I was already convinced that it could make an attractive and compelling puzzle to a wide audience. Now, over 26 years later, it is finally happening. Thanks to the additional innovations by Wei-Hwa, theming by George Miller, and some great and subtle industrial design work by ThinkFun, people can now buy it!
Only after receiving the samples, I realized what a great birthday gift this puzzle makes. I can open the package and change the date to a personalized one. Tomorrow, my sister has her 43rd birthday. So I have hers set to SEP-08. I am sure she will like it.
I am thrilled to report that Daily Puzzle is nominated for a People’s Play Award from Time to Play! Here’s a campaign video Oskar created to help spread the word – please take a moment and VOTE NOW!