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History of Noughts and Crosses

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Noughts and Crosses is an ancient game that has been played in Britain for centuries. This deceptively simple game is also called Tic Tac Toe (sometimes spelt Tick Tack Toe) in America and some other parts of the world.


The precise origins of Noughts and Crosses are unknown but there has been evidence that the game of Noughts and Crosses was actually played by the Ancient Egyptians in around 1300 BC.


The Romans certainly enjoyed a game of Noughts and Crosses. Terni Lapilli was a popular Roman game which was played in exactly the same way as Noughts and Crosses by using counters or stones that the players positioned onto a carved grid. This using of objects is the foundation of giant noughts and crosses as well. Terni Lapilli is mentioned in works of classical literature such as the “Lives of the Twelve Caesars “written by Seutonius in the time of Hadrian (117 -138 AD).


Many carved Noughts and Crosses grids have been excavated throughout the Roman Empire and it is likely that it was the Romans who first bought Noughts and Crosses to Britain. These were of different sizes, and the giant noughts and crosses originates from these different sized grids


There are 255,168 possible outcomes to a game of Noughts and Crosses. This seems to suggest that this game is a little more complicated than it first appears!


Noughts and Crosses was the first computer game ever to be played. This was in 1952 and the game was a software program written by AS Douglas for the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (or ESDAC) built in 1949 at Cambridge university – the world’s first ever programmable computer.


It seems a long way from some of the computer games of today but it is appropriate that Noughts and Crosses, one of the oldest games in the world should be the first game to be computerised.


Noughts and Crosses is probably the most ancient game in the world that people continue to enjoy playing to this day. Absorbing, simple and frustrating, Noughts and Crosses continues to entertain and delight players of all ages. The simple fact that it can be played with “pieces”, such as in giant noughts and crosses, or by anyone with a drawing implement, has added to its appeal. Essentially nothing is required, and it can be played in any size, be it on a scrap of paper, or on a 110 X 110 cm surface, as required by the giant noughts and crosses game!