Today gamers often seem immersed in their favorite games. But serious, focused gaming is nothing new. Just after the turn of the 20th century, many Americans concentrated and deliberated in a similar manner trying to assemble the latest plaything for adults and families—jigsaw puzzles.
Historically, jigsaw puzzles originated in Europe during the 18th century, when mapmakers and printers glued pictures to wood, and then cut pieces by hand. Beginning as teaching tools for children, puzzles became a staple of early childhood education and entertainment. Many factors contributed to the brief craze for hand-sawed wooden jigsaw puzzles in the early 1900s, but it was limited to people with money because the first adult puzzles were too expensive for most working-class Americans.