Howard Garns, a freelance puzzle creator, invented Sudoku in 1979, although he called it "Number Place." Similar puzzles were prevalent dating back to the 18th century in Switzerland and later in France.
Although the game was invented in Connorsville, Indiana, it first appeared in Japan and grew in popularity, before it was renamed Sudoku. A judge from New Zealand named Wayne Gould discovered the game while in Tokyo and developed a computer program that produced Sudoku puzzles. In 2004, The Conway, a New Hampshire paper, started featuring Sudoku, and the puzzle's popularity has grown exponentially in the United States and around the world ever since.