Who We Are
CROSSDOWN BEGAN nearly two dozen years ago as a personal crossword construction program written by Sam Bellotto Jr. to help him develop puzzles by eliminating grid asymmetry, improper numbering, word duplicates, and missing clues—errors that plague most constructors. “I happily used the software for a year or so,” says Bellotto, “constantly improving it until I had eventually developed the first version of Crossdown. I thought this was something other constructors would appreciate. Was I wrong!” The legendary Eugene T. Maleska didn’t even want to look at it. Other constructors felt about computers the way most people feel about hungry alligators and kept a safe distance. Electric typewriters were challenge enough. Manual typewriters better.
“I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t about to let all that hard work go to waste, either,” points out Bellotto. A few modifications could turn Crossdown from a puzzle-development application into a computer-based game. If puzzle makers didn’t want it yet, maybe there would be better reception from puzzle solvers.
Crossdown Version 1 was released in 1992 as a shareware game with 50 crosswords. It wasn’t an overnight success, but sales slowly grew. Then a strange thing happened. Relates Bellotto: “I began to get eager letters from people asking if there was a way they could construct their own crosswords with my software!” Obviously, there was.
Bellotto revisited all the puzzle authoring code he was still using for his own constructions and shortly had ready for distribution Crossdown Version 2—construct and solve professional-quality crossword puzzles on your computer.
Ultimately even the established puzzle constructors who had stubbornly resisted the inevitable reign of the computer cried uncle. Gene Maleska expressed an interest himself in Crossdown but, sadly, a few months later he died. Maleska’s co-editor, John M. Samson, currently crossword editor for Simon & Schuster, became Crossdown’s biggest booster and was hugely instrumental in the development of Crossdown Version 3.
After more than a decade, Crossdown, now in its seventh revision, remains the development software of choice for serious professionals and amateurs alike.
On a Personal Note
Sam Bellotto Jr. sold his first crossword in 1979 to Eugene T. Maleska for the “New York Times Sunday Magazine.” Since then, he has published over 1,000 puzzles. Currently he is a regular contributor to the “Simon & Schuster Crossword books,” “Public Citizen,” “Music Alive!” and has had weekly crosswords in “The Hill” newspaper, “Back Stage,” and contributes to all of the other major crossword puzzle markets. He has published a number of crossword puzzle books, and is also editor of “Perihelion Science Fiction,” an online short story magazine.
Some Awards That We Have Won
Every year, the Association of Software Professionals hosts an international convention. The three-day event culminates with a formal banquet at which peer chosen awards are presented to the best software products of the year in several categories.
Crossdown has won in the “People’s Choice” category twice, in the “Best Game” category once, and was a nominee in 2004.
What Others Have to Say About Us
“I edit all my Simon & Schuster crosswords with Crossdown.” — John M. Samson, Crosswords Editor, Simon & Schuster.
“As editor of the USA Today Crossword and the full-line of Universal Crosswords, I use Crossdown software every day. For me, it’s indispensable.” —Timothy Parker, Editor.
“This piece of software is terrific!” —Nick Francesco, “Sound Bytes.”
“Crossdown is #1! I couldn't work without it.” —Gayle Dean, co-author, “Merriam-Webster’s Word Play Crosswords.”
“You won’t find this much puzzle fun packed into such a great program anywhere else at such a bargain price.” —Kathy Salisbury, Pharos Games.
“Enigmacross is a snazzy piece of software—the champagne of acrostics programs!” —Matt Gaffney, Gaffney Crossword Group.