Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #21: What to call the puzzles, and when did they actually be invented ??
By Gitte Olesen (granny40)

#1: Gitte Olesen (granny40) on Oct 17, 2006

Hi Jan :-)

Thanks again for having this Site Paint By Number.
Luv it.

I just read FAQ (don`t know what means... FAQ..)
You have listed some other names for this kind of puzzles.
I call them Hanjie. That is not on your list...
That was what they were called in my puzzle-book.
In that book they tell that it is a fascinating Japaneese picture-puzzling and goes back to the 18. century.

In Danish: Hanjie er et fascinerende japansk billedpusleri, som går tilbage til det attende århundrede. Det består af et antal tomme felter, som udfyldes ved, at man følger nogle få simple nøgletal og derved gradvis afslører et skjult billede- en slags maleri med tal.

So Hanjie they`re called too..
#2: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 17, 2006
FAQ means "Frequently Asked Questions".

Thanks for pointing that out. I've added "Hanjie" to the list on the FAQ.

I also have a list of alternate names on the front page of the web site (what you see when you log out). (Actually, it's there in hopes that google will send people searching for those names to me). That list already included "Hanjie". That name is also mentioned on the "Books" page.

I don't actually believe that it goes back to the 18th century. I've never heard that anywhere else.
#3: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 21, 2007
According to my research (actually fairly well limited to Games Magazine articles over the last 10 years or so, as well as a few web articles), it was invented within the last 15 years by a woman in japan as a means of putting messages in lights using skyscraper windows at night. She was an engineer, and gave instructions mucjh like the grids we use in these puzzles to her technicians. If they followed the paterns correctly (ie, solved the puzzle) the message would be spelled out, using lights in the individual windows. Jan, if you have ever driven by the Palace on I-75 near Auburn Hills, you've probably noticed the electric bill board that shows images of the upcoming concerts. For those not familiar with Detroit, these are very detailed pictures of entertainers on a huge billboard near the ampitheater. These are plotted out using the same concepts used to make pbn puzzles! The only difference is that they get PAID to create and solve the images!
#4: Gypso (Gypso) on Aug 21, 2007
That's really cool, J.C.! Do you know if there are any photos of the Japanese woman's messages? Reminds me a little of a treasure hunt. :)
#5: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 22, 2007
Oh boy, I recall seeing the Tokyo(?) skyline in a GAMES magazine circa 1996, with a very primative message. I used to save all the back issues and lug those magazines around forever thinking that they'd come in handy someday. Then I threw them all away a couple years ago. Just goes to show, NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY!!! But really, they've changed hands/management/format so many times, I wonder if they'd be able to find it. Perhaps concepsis, who is the biggest commercial name in the field of pbn to my knowledge, might be a better source, or even their predecessor whose name I can't begin to recall right now. I'll probably remember at 3am one night, lucky you won't get woken by a phone call! Ah, L'esprit d'escallier, c'est la vie...
#6: Gypso (Gypso) on Aug 22, 2007
There is a ton of information on purported pbn creator Non (Nobuko) Ishida out there. There is a short history at:


conceptispuzzles.com (which I believe Jan has created a link to elsewhere on this site)

wikipedia has a tiny blurb

google search had an interesting bit regarding a Trademarks Opposition Decision 0/367/00 in which it appears Non Ishida petitioned(? I am not a lawyer!) or brought suit
against (? again...) James Dalgetty who took Ms. Ishida's puzzle concept, named them nonograms in Ishida's honor and attempted to enter into a contract to publish with The Sunday Telegraph. Dalgetty apparently succeeded.

One interesting note was that Nintendo picked up the idea (1988?) and created several nonogram games for their various systems. Only one was released out of Japan, I think it was called Mario's Pic a Box.

All in all very interesting information, but wouldn't you know it, I never found a picture of the original skyscraper lights competition in Tokyo that Ishido won in 1987! I'll keep digging. I'd love to see it!

J.C. sorry about your loss of back issued mags, but your story has inspired me to toss out a ton of junk that I've carried too long and too far. There's a good chance I can find it on the internet. I think I'll keep the pictures though ;-)
#7: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 22, 2007
Wow. YOu have been doing your homework! This is why we should think about a common board, we have so many different threads (?not to misuse the term?) going. When I think about the lost junk, or unreturned items (I've bought at least seven copies of Astral Weeks over the last decade) I tell myself they were lost in a fire. Don't know why but it works for me.

G, Was kinda hoping someone would have picked up on "l'esprit d'escallier"
#8: Gypso (Gypso) on Aug 22, 2007
J.C., Best I could do with my limited high school French and my trusty french/english dictionary last night was the spirit of the escalator/stairway? I assume that this is a colloq. My top 3 guesses are: "drum roll"
And so it goes
Life goes on
Venus is in retrograde
#9: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 23, 2007
Ah, she takes the bait and makes my day. My ex used to call me the Professor. Eventually I realized she didn't mean it as a compliment.

Anyway, it means "the spirit of the stairs" in a literal translation. It is that clever comeback you have after the moment has passed. The zinger you think of as you are walking down the stairs after the meeting has adjourned, or that comes to you at 3am while you are lying in bed. A thought that is brilliant, but you'd sound really goofy if you tried to resurrect the conversation with the target just to show off the brilliant line, and even goofier if you tried to reconstruct the scenario for friends.

Believe me, my French is not good. Nor is it well. My instructor at Purdue passed me with a D---, special dispensation mercy grade after plenty'o'groveling, beggining, etc.
#10: Gypso (Gypso) on Aug 23, 2007
I have had plenty l'esprit d'escallier moments. Is nice to give it a French name. Thanks Professor. And I don't mean it in a bad way.
#11: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 23, 2007
Thank you, Gypso. And as to the original question here, I'm thinking either "hero-uzzles", or "Puzz-oin" because they are so dam addictive!
#12: Gypso (Gypso) on Aug 23, 2007
#13: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 23, 2007
#14: Gypso (Gypso) on Aug 24, 2007
#15: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 24, 2007
yeah. bad stuff. I've only known it as a euphamism, so maybe that's overstating, but you have to admit, you keep coming back to these pages.
#16: Gypso (Gypso) on Aug 24, 2007
My only problem with these pages is that I'm still having problems posting to the ones that don't have fresh comments. I've tried the suggestion (was it Judy?) of clicking "all topics" but still there is no comment box to respond in. Only the informer that you must be logged in to participate (paraphrase). Sure would like to know what I'm either missing or doing wrong.
#17: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 25, 2007
Check back in #42. No sense repeating ourselves.
#18: Jan Wolter (jan) on Aug 25, 2007
The person who was doing skyscraper images and somehow got from there to pbn puzzles was Tetsuya Nishio, I think. I've never seen the how the two could have anything to do with each other though. The inhabitants of the apartments would have instructions telling when to turn their lights on and off, but there would be nothing like row or column clues. So I never understood that story.

Non Ishida apparently invented the same puzzles at about the same time. Ishida did get into a trademark fight with the Telegraph and Dalgetty (who are pretty much responsible for publicizing the puzzles in the west). Because of this, the Telegraph could no longer use the Nonogram name. They held a competition among their readers to invent a new name, and came up with "Griddlers".

I guess the multiple inventors, and the disputes over trademarks is the reason that the these puzzles ended up with so many names. I did some amount of research into this at the time I created this site. So far as I could tell, the "Paint-by-Numbers" name is the most popular name that is not a trademark, which is why I preferred that name on this site.
#19: Gypso (Gypso) on Aug 25, 2007
Cool Jan thank you. Do you know where to find a photo of the skyscraper image attributed to Non Ishida?
#20: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Aug 25, 2007
A five story building with ten apartments on each floor along the same wall with a large sliding glass window would leave you with a 5 x 10 grid. The person handing out the instructions would have the master of the clues. Of course you'd have much thicker "bars" between the squares. Nonetheless you'd have a very crude system for imaging. The puzzle aspect had to be conceived later. We also have the advantage of hindsight with our much-more developed system. It would still be easier than seeing the signs of the Zodiac by the stars they contain (which I still can't figure out, eg, I can see the arrow and kindof the bow, but the centaur in Sagittarius? No way!)
#21: Byrdie (byrdie) on Nov 22, 2008
I grew up in San Francisco. It was common during certain holidays to see different "skyscrapers" in downtown with their windows lit up for a message. Usually they were simple ones that worked vertically - like "XMAS" or a christmas tree. That was back in the sixties (not intending to date myself).
#22: (Private) (Cyclone) on Dec 13, 2010
Actually, per Martin's comment, I remember in coverage of Obama's victory speech in Chicago after becoming president-elect that a building in the background had lights on to read USA. I forget which news feed showed this; I thought it was CNN, but I didn't see it when looking at it on Youtube just now. A PBN puzzle could have been made of this building's light display.
#23: Kadou (Kadou) on Nov 7, 2012
PBN are also called "glyphix" at http://www.heroglyphix.com;
"pic-a-pix" at http://www.conceptispuzzles.com/index.aspx?uri=puzzle/pic-a-pix;
and "pattern" at http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/puzzles/

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