January 17th, 2013
Carl Leffler was a respected mathematician and professor at Columbia University when he was approached by a guy named Ed Lowe. It was the early 1930s and Ed was developing this game that he called ‘Beano’. He was having trouble coming up with different, random combinations of numbers that were a critical component of his new game. And seeing that Carl Leffler was a bit of a mathematics whiz, Ed asked for his help. He paid Carl up to $100 per number combination card, because Ed needed some 6,000 different card number combinations. Apparently, that’s a lot of numbers and this was way before the days of google algorithms. And yes, these numbers were important.
The numbers that Carl came up with are the numbers that established the game we all know and love: bingo.
Yes, bingo can singlehandedly be attributed to the hard work and dedication of Carl Leffler, a man so forgotten by history that he lacks a Wikipedia page. But that’s not the worst of it. Apparently after all of his hard work, Carl had a breakdown. Coming up with all those numbers and combinations took its toll on him, and as the story goes- he went insane.
Whatever skills or talents you have, use them until you lose your mind. We’ll all be thankful with the results. So let the world benefit from your insanity.
Also, if you’re in Chicago on Friday night, my good friend and artist Jim Joyce is the guest bingo caller for a Chicago ‘Zine Fest fundraiser. Check it out. Support the arts!