Mechanical Puzzle

Mechanical puzzles are puzzles that are presented as sets of mechanically interconnected pieces.

History of Mechanical puzzles

The earliest records of a mechanical puzzle come from ancient Greece, which first appeared during the third century BC. This particular puzzle consisted of a square that was divided into 14 sections, and the main aim was to form various shapes from these diverse pieces. This was however a task that was not easily accomplished.

Puzzle-locks were also made in Iran as early as 17th century AD.

Japan also has a long history of puzzles. In 1742, we can find the mention of a certain game called "Sei Shona-gon Chie No-Ita" that was referred to in a book. Approximately around 1800, the Chinese puzzle Tangram grew in popularity and just 2 decades later it spread all across Europe and America.

Richter, a company originating from the German town Rudolstadt started creating large volumes of puzzles having different shapes that were much like Tangram; these were known as the "Anker-puzzles".

Professor Hoffman penned a book named Puzzles; Old and New in the year 1893. The book contained detailed descriptions of more than 40 puzzles along with discussions on secret opening mechanisms. The book gradually grew into a major reference for puzzle games; today modern copies of the book exist for all those who are interested in puzzles.

Puzzles were fashionable to a great degree at the onset of the twentieth century and the earliest patents for puzzles got recorded during this time. Also with the discovery of modern polymers, manufacturing puzzles became a lot easier and cheaper.

Mechanical Puzzle

Types of Mechanical Puzzles

Assembly Puzzles: Assembly Puzzles are presented in a component form. The main aim of these puzzles is to develop a definite shape. The Pentomino crafted by Solomon Golomb, the Soma cube created by Piet Hein, as well as the Tangram and "Anker-puzzles" are the various examples of Assembly Puzzles.

Disassembly Puzzles: These puzzles are generally solved by dividing or opening them into several pieces. They also include puzzles that are opened by secret opening mechanisms that operate by trial and error. Many puzzles which are formed by connecting numerous metal pieces also fall into this category.

Interlocking Puzzles: Interlocking puzzles are puzzles where 1 or more pieces function to hold the entire puzzle together. It can also be that the puzzle pieces are reciprocally self-sustaining. A player has to entirely disassemble and then again reassemble the pieces of the puzzle. Chinese wood knots are a well-known example of these types of puzzles.

Disentanglement Puzzles: Disentanglement Puzzles involve disentangling a string loop or a metal from an object. The study of topology forms an important part of these puzzles.

Fold Puzzles: The main aim of these puzzles is folding a piece of paper such a way so that a target picture may be obtained. Rubik's Magic is an example of fold puzzles.

Lock Puzzle: Lock puzzles or trick locks have unusual locking mechanisms. The player has the goal to open a lock. Even if the player is provided with a key, the opening procedure of the lock won't be a conventional one and would involve some complex trickery.

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