History of a Classic Game

Galt Museum & Archives programs explore topics from our exhibits, this hands-on history program will provide an opportunity for discovery. This week is no exception and the museum invites community eo enjoy hands-on activities, reminisce and create projects that celebrate our local history.

Tic-tac-toe, also called Xs and Os, is probably one of the earliest paper-and-pencil games you learned as a child. It is a simple strategy game for two players, who take turns marking spaces in a three by three grid; the goal is to be the first player to get three of the same symbol in a row. When the result is a tie, it is often called a Cat’s Game. No consensus exists about the origin of this phrase, but one possibility is a tie also called a scratch, which cats love to do. Another is a cat chasing its tail will never win!

An early version of Tic-tac-toe, called Terni Lapilli, was played in the Roman Empire, around the first century BC. Terni Lapilli boards have been found throughout the Empire, scratched on walls, floors and roofs; however, no Xs and Os accompanied the markings so perhaps playing pieces were used. In Britain, Tic-tac-toe was called Noughts and Crosses; the first printed reference to this name appeared in 1864. Tic-tac-toe may also come from Tick Tack, an old version of backgammon, first described in 1558. In 1952, OXO was one of the first video games for very early computers. The computer could play perfect games of Tic-tac-toe against a human opponent.

Join us for the First Friday program on Fri NOV 4 from 1:30–3:00 pm. All ages are welcome and if you say “First Friday” your admission will be free! Participants will create a reusable Tic-tac-toe game by painting a wooden board and playing pieces. Visitors can then enjoy the interactive exhibit Kids Celebrate!