Awards we've bestowed
Prizes, honors and awards we won
International Puzzle Parties
Gatherings for Gardner
Celebrations of Mind
Praise and fanmail
In the media
Kadon Enterprises, Inc., was incorporated in the State of Maryland on June 18, 1980.
The company was founded in the Fall of 1979 by two married couples: Dick and Kate Jones, and Don and
Nosi Burnham. Kate Jones has been the President from the beginning to the present time.
Dick Jones is Chairman of the Board. The other members of the Board are Kate Jones and
Rita Krauth. Shareholders include the officers and several of the long-time helpers. Dick and Kate live in Kadon's world headquarters.
Kadon's goal is to make and sell good and true and beautiful things at decent prices.
The games and puzzles are a celebration of Mindthe uniquely human capacity to observe,
learn, invent, imagine, reason and solve. The products should bring pleasure to the widest
range of individuals, from child to adult, from beginner to expert. The style and concept
of the products should be universal and timeless, each idea presented in its purest form. Each
product must be worthy of the customer's time and money.
The company's first product, and the reason for starting the business, was the game
Quintillions. This set of mathematically related geometric shapes can be arranged in a huge number of different patterns and played as interesting strategy games besides. Its game/puzzle nature inspired the creation of dozens of other "recreational mathematics" models over the years. The term gamepuzzles came into use early as the distinctive name for this medium. Kate does most of the design and development. From 3 to 6 new products are introduced each year. See the full Chronology and the alphabetical index of first publication dates. As the company grew, compatible ideas from other inventors were also developed and added to the product line. Kadon pays royalties for exclusive license to produce such games. Our inventors are acknowledged throughout this website, and most have profile pages included. Any products not specifically attributed are the work of Kate Jones.
We've added a special Archives section just to track our developments through the decades, from concept to product to marketing, including annual celebrations of games that reach their 25th anniversary.
The symbol used in this website's background tiling and for the hotlink icons is the "W" pentomino, one of the 12 shapes in Kadon's flagship product, Quintillions. Kate chose it as the company's logo for its distinctive symmetrical shape, and because it is the only pentomino with not more than 2 squares adjacent in the same line. In October 1999, the large yellow logo on the homepage was given an extra treata Flash movie by Chris Palmer that shows the puzzle pieces in the W and makes them dance into interesting patterns designed by Kate. For Kadon's 20th anniversary in 2000, Kate created a special Logo Puzzle, dividing the W into 20 puzzle pieces. This limited edition was discontinued in October 2004, with a new 25-piece 25th anniversary logo puzzle introduced in 2005.
In the meanwhile, George Sicherman had found this marvelous arrangement of 29 Ws as a jagged diamond, so of course it served as our icon for Kadon's 29th anniversary in 2009.
For our 30th anniversary in 2010, we embedded the number 30 in a special, limited edition of Poly-5, with the W in one corner.
The name of our product line, GAMEPUZZLES, also our domain name and brand, became a full-fledged registered trademark of Kadon in January 2009, along with our slogan, "For the joy of thinking." It took only 28 years. Might have taken longer if we hadn't found Stephen Christopher Swift, Esq., who expertly handled the legal end. Several other Kadon products' names are also registered. All names of Kadon-created and Kadon-made products are proprietary trademarks of Kadon Enterprises, Inc., and names of certain other products are exclusive trademarks by license or assignment. They are marked accordingly throughout the product pages. Other games we sell through guest showcases are trademarked by their respective publishers and are acknowledged as such.
Kadon markets its products only directly to the customer. The games are not available
through stores or other wholesale channels. Kadon's philosophy is that the games should be
produced in high-quality materials for durability, beauty and tactile pleasure. That costs
money. By eliminating middle layers in marketing, Kadon can offer the games at the lowest
price possible. The company ships to customers in every state and in 46 other countries (last
count). Kate also hits the road for about 40 art shows a year. The annual printed catalog has been replaced by a free online printable edition,
available in printed form for $4.00.
The majority of Kadon's tiling sets are made of acrylic sheets, in opaque, transparent, and frosted mirror colors. Solid hardwood maple and some baltic birch plywood are the favored materials for the boardgames.
The in-house production tools for most of the gamepuzzles are the company's 25-watt Synrad and 50-watt Universal lasers with computer-controlled motion tables, run by Thomas Atkinson, curator of the Star Toys Museum. The laser tables (one 24x24", the other 24x48") and control software are from
Kern Electronics. The fine woodworking is done by Dick Jones. Heavy-duty cutting is still performed for us by the laser shop with whom we started out in 1979, Laser Applications Inc., who have grown from two guys in a small garage in 1979 to being the biggest and best chain of laser and waterjet shops in the nation. Kadon is their oldest customer. And we also cherish our other good, reliable, long-time suppliers. We stand behind all of our products, for guaranteed satisfaction. Replacement parts are always available.
Awards we've bestowed
In honor of Kadon's 25th anniversary in 2005, we created an award, the Gamepuzzles Annual Pentomino Excellence award, to be presented to the individual who offered the best new pentomino problem or activity in that calendar year. Why pentominoes? Because Kadon is founded on them. The game that launched the company, Quintillions, consists of the 12 pentomino shapes. Award winners:
- For year-end 2004Eric Harshbarger for his Enclosed Triplets problem.
- For year-end 2005Bryan Bouwman, Brian Goble and Garrett Price of HipSoft LLC for their superlative Puzzle Express suite of RealArcade games where you fill train cars with polyominoes. Their award fit the theme.
- For year-end 2006Blue Balliett for her mystery novel, The Wright 3, where pentominoes figure significantly in the plot about a Frank Lloyd Wright building. Her award was inspired by the theme.
- For year-end 2007Karl Wilk for his tour de force polyominoes solution, The Pentomino Clock. His award was a real clock with his solution forming the face.
- For year-end 2008Kenneth Blackledge for his beautiful, original Ten-Yen alphabet. His award carried forward the theme.
- For year-end 2009Kenneth Blackledge for his elegant, original Poly-5 alphabet. His award matched the theme.
- For year-end 2010Jan Zoon in the Netherlands for his incredible, 45178-piece polycube construction of Notre Dame cathedral. His award was a custom-made set of large and small mugs with a picture of his achievement.
- For year-end 2011Derrick Niederman for his ingenious wordsearch puzzle series, PathWords, published by ThinkFun, where each word is the shape of a polyomino. His award was itself a playable word puzzle/plaque.
- For year 2013we celebrated Solomon W. Golomb with a lifetime award on the 60th anniversarythe Diamond Jubileeof his introducing polyominoes as a new genre of mathematical recreation at the Harvard Math Club in 1953. Sixty years of their care and feeding,
and the authorship of the definitive book, Polyominoes (available from Kadon), makes Solomon the veritable patriarch of polyominoes. His work inspired the very founding of Kadon Enterprises, Inc., and its ever-growing product line of combinatorial puzzles and games (the "Gamepuzzles"). Solomon's award is a highly playable puzzle challenge as well as a unique display trophy.
Also in 2005, Kadon created an occasional industry award, the Gamepuzzles Originality, Perseverance and Leadership salute, to be presented to some other game company in recognition of its long-term dedication to providing consistently excellent, mind-challenging games and puzzles and popularizing them in the mass market.
- The first recipient was ThinkFun, Inc. (a Binary Arts company), on the occasion of their 20th anniversary in 2005. Their unique prize had 20 parts.
- The second award was presented in 2009 to Looney Labs, Inc., on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of their creation of Icehouse, a dazzlingly original game that revolutionized how games can be played without taking turns. Their unique award echoed the shape of Icehouse pyramids.
Kadon occasionally sponsors awards to winners of certain puzzle-solving competitions, particularly those that use Kadon products. We were pleased to present prizes for these achievements:
- The 50th Pentomino Challenge, on a Belgian website for topnotch solvers, 2012.
- The Second Annual Doris Championship, 2012, involving students in Serbia, Romania and Hungary.
- The Third Annual Doris Championship, 2013, involving students in Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary.
- The Ten-Yen 3-Layer Problem, solved in 2013 at the University of Latvia by Prof. Andrejs Cibulis and his doctoral student, Juris Cernenoks
Prizes, honors and awards we won
Kadon's exhibits at art shows across the country have won prize ribbons through the years, including in:
- Miami Beach, FL (1996, 1997)
- Sanford, FL (1988)
- South Miami, FL (1990)
- Key Biscayne, FL (1996)
- Hinsdale, IL (1991)
- Indiana, PA (1990, 1993, 1996, 1998)
- Binghamton, NY (1985, 1988)
- Akron, OH (1993, 1994, 1995)
- Ft. Wayne, IN (1990)
- Englewood, FL (1998)
- Greenwich Village, NY (1998)
- Pittsburgh, PA (2011)
- Akron Arts Expo, OH (2011)
- Warm Mineral Springs, FL (2012)
In October 1999 Kate was awarded a certificate for outstanding performance for "the most improved booth" at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Here's a panoramic view of the interior.
On September 27, 1997, Kate received a Speakers' award in Hershey, PA, at the American Game Collectors' Association annual meeting, for a talk and discussion on game design and marketing.
Two of Kadon's present-day games were chosen by Omni magazine in 1983 as among the ten best new games of the year: Proteus and Kaliko.
Games magazine has reviewed so many of our games through the years that we've given them their own section, Games Magazine selects, in the Product Index. As of December 2013, our games have appeared on the "Games 100" list of best games 52 times.
Kadon is frequently invited to set up a round-the-clock game and puzzle display, always a popular attraction, for the entertainment and stimulation of attendees at the annual conventions of American Mensa, the high-IQ society.
- On May 2-4, 2008, at the regional gathering in Gaithersburg, MD, Kadon had a large and well-attended display, and Kate also gave a presentation as part of the program of speakers organized by Susan Wenger. Kate's topic was "A Grand Unification Theory of Life, the Universe, and Nearly Everything," accompanied by graphics of various gamepuzzles sets to illustrate the major points of the talk.
Kadon's Quintillions set was selected as part of a traveling museum exhibit of puzzles appearing in major cities and is among the puzzles visitors are allowed to play with hands-on.
Another museum exhibit, in Brussels, Belgium, invited Kadon to exhibit jumbo versions of some puzzles for hands-on play, and we sent five-fold enlarged models of three different Pyramid puzzles, Throw a Fit cubes and Square and Fair dissection, all of which Dick handcrafted. From all accounts, they were very popular with visitors.
Kadon was selected as the official puzzle supplier for the 1998 Mind Sports Olympiad in London.
In October 2003 the Maryland Renaissance Festival gave Kadon a special award for its unique 28-page Shakespearean catalog, published for 18 years. Products are described in iambic pentameter, with sly topical references hidden here and there. Here's a close-up of the first page.
In November 2003 Kate was an invited speaker at the Fall 2003 S.N.A.P. Math Fair Conference in Edmonton, Canada. SNAP stands for Student-centered, Non-competitive, All-inclusive and Problem-based. It is hosted by math teachers and included student exhibits. Kate's talk was on "peripatetic pentominoes", with examples of the many ways these lovable geometric shapes show up in mathematical recreations.
In April 2008, Kate was the featured guest speaker at the Ted Lewis Workshop on SNAP Math Fairs, a conference of math teachers hosted by the SNAP Mathematics Foundation in Banff, Canada. The foundation helps schools to organize math fairs where students create exhibits of math-based puzzles, an exciting new way to teach mathematics and problem-solving. SNAP stands for Student-centered, Non-competitive, All-inclusive and Problem-based.
In March 2010, Kate was a presenter at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors (AGPC, formerly American Game Collectors Association), held during a cruise in the Caribbean, with visits to Cozumel and Belize.
In May 2011, at the annual conference of Project Renaissance, Kate was a guest speaker on the subject of "Making Sense", where she used puzzles as a paradigm for how the mind works to solve anything and to make sense of the world. Here's a synopsis of her talk.
In May 2012, at the annual conference of Project Renaissance, Kate was a guest speaker on the subject of "Minds of the Future", which traced the evolution of consciousness and projected a possible future. See the PowerPoint version.
In June 2012, at the annual Atlas Summit of The Atlas Society, Kate gave a presentation on Singularity to Infinity, which traced the cycles of existence from being to the evolution of consciousness to infinity. See also the PowerPoint version.
Gabriel Fernandes has a great blog for reviewing puzzles, and for his 200th blog he selected his "Top 10" puzzles of the previous 100 reviewed, including our Trifolia. Read also his full review of Trifolia and glowing review of Cubits, Gabriel's No. 1 choice for his "Top 10" puzzles for his 300th blog. In his 400th blog, he included our Roundominoes in the "Top 10". Read its beautifully presented review. It's lovely to see recognition of our collaborator, Puzumi, and its enthusiastic founder, German Calas.
International Puzzle Parties
Kate is regularly invited to participate in the exclusive International Puzzle Party, held annually in various countries by turns. We've attended many of them since 1983.
- In 2002 we attended IPP22 in Belgium,
- In 2003 we participated in IPP23 in Chicago. Kate designed a special puzzle for these occasions.
- IPP25 in 2005, celebrated in Helsinki, coincided with Kadon's own 25th anniversary, and Kate made a special, very limited version of the Silver Anniversary logo puzzle honoring IPP as well.
- In 2006, IPP26 was held in Boston, and so Kate couldn't resist designing a special, limited-edition Boston T-Party puzzle for the occasion.
- Our most eagerly anticipated puzzle party was IPP27, in Australia, August 2007, our first trip south of the Equator. Naturally, Kate designed a special, limited-edition "down-under" puzzle, Sudo-Koala, blending Sudoku puzzle themes with koala bears.
- IPP28 was held in August 2008 in Prague, the Czech Republic. A record crowd of 400 strained the resources of the organizers and the facilities, especially the food services and entertainment, which meant standing in long, slow queues several times a day. Bus and walking trips around Prague and vicinity showed the city's antiquities and ornate architecture. Striking was how clean the streets are kept and how good the beer is. For this occasion, Kate designed a special Prague Czecherboard puzzle.
- In 2009, when IPP29 returned us to San Francisco, Dick and Kate drove cross-country and combined revisiting favorite places like Carlsbad Caverns and new delights like Monument Valley and Arches National Park. Kate posted travel notes on Twitter, reprised here accompanied by selected photos. For San Francisco, Kate designed the Lombard Loops puzzle as a tribute to famous twisty Lombard Street.
- For IPP31 in Berlin in August 2011, Kate designed Bearlin Variations, a sudoku/sliding block combination of 16 shield-like tiles with different poses of the historical bear on the Berlin coat of arms. Kate also built a special wood Berlin Wall puzzle for the puzzle design competition. Though not a winner, it gave a unique preview of the new Hopscotch set to come. Sadly, the Berlin photos were in the laptop that got stolen during a train ride from Budapest to Kiskunfelegyhaza. The Joneses also had a glorious visit to the German Alps and to Hungary to search for Kate's family. Those stories and photos are coming.
- The 32nd annual International Puzzle Party was held for the first time ever in the Washington, DC, areapractically our backyard. For the puzzle exchange, Kate designed a Washington Monument puzzle made of 7 cubes inscribed with the letters L-I-B-E-R-T-Y, a kind of towering 3D Sudoku challenge plus wistful political statement. When solved so that all four vertical walls contain all 7 letter, a secret additional word can be found within the tower. For the Puzzle Party the next day, a mini-display of Kadon's prettiest and most difficult puzzles tempted attendees.
Gatherings for Gardner
Another great event by invitation only is the Gathering for Gardner, held in Atlanta every two years since 1994. Guests are encouraged to bring something on paper to share that is in the spirit of math, magic or puzzles, inspired by the writings of Martin Gardner. Kate has attended most of them. Martin Gardner himself attended the first one, which was intended to be a one-time celebration of his work. The event proved so successful and enjoyable that a second one was planned, and by then the Gathering had become a tradition.
2006 | 2008 | 2010 | 2012
In 2006 it was the 7th Gathering, and the theme of 7 ran through many of the dozens of presentations by the distinguished scholars, writers, puzzlers, and magicians. Kate's 10-minute talk summarized 7 philosophical principles that could be drawn from Gardner's work, whose original field and degree were in philosophy.
Attendees are also invited to submit articles for the souvenir book. Some of the books are published in handsome hardbound editions by the eminent publishing house A. K. Peters. Kate has contributed three articles and a large variety of puzzle challenges. The articles are part of collections published as books. See In the Media below.
Here are the puzzles based on "7" that Kate contributed to the 2006 souvenir book. The Magic Heptominoes question offers a prize for the right answer, and this challenge is now open to the world. Everyone is eligible to try for it.
A great pleasure for Kate at the 7th Gathering was to be photographed with one of the most famous and brilliant minds of our time, Raymond Smullyan. Scholar, teacher, thinker, magician, writer, trickster, motivator, musician, and a romantic in the classical sense Ray gives a new definition to "Renaissance man". Here's the photo of Raymond with Kate and two other Smullyan admirers.
In 2008, at the 8th Gathering, the theme of "8" permeated most of the 87 presentations by an awesome group of mathematicians, puzzlers and magicians. Kate gave a 10-minute talk on "Philosophy Revisited: 8 Great Memes" (.pdf file, 434K), accompanied by colorful puzzle images projected on twin screens. Attendees also brought exchange gifts that invited thought, play and astonishment. Kate had prepared a special one-of-a-kind set just for show, Octachrome Insanity, and three little contributions for the gift bag. All played with the concept of 8:
Among the Gathering's festivities was a visit to organizer Tom Rodgers' fabulous Japanese-style home, where part of the fun was building life-size 3-D puzzles, sculptures and George Hart's interlocking construction project in the gardens, and watching authentic Japanese music and dance performances while enjoying a feast of Japanese culinary masterpieces. The largest "puzzle" built was a dome made entirely of bamboo rods fastened with sturdy rubber bands. It was strong enough for even full-grown people to climb.
This Gathering also saw the world premiere of Kadon's gorgeous Doris octagonal tiling/matching set, with a lively animated presentation by its inventor, Zdravko Zivkovic, who flew in from Serbia, and an engrossing introduction and analysis by our co-researcher, Toby Gottfried, who came in from California for the occasion. The threeZdravko, Toby, and Katehad been collaborating by email for months across the globe in the Serbia-California-Florida triangulation, in a synergy all three agreed had been most satisfying and mutually energizing. This JibJab zaniness by Toby topped it off.
In March 2010, at the 9th Gathering, the theme of "9" showed up in many of the dozens of presentations by the amazing group of scholars, mathematicians, magicians, puzzle designers and philosophers. Kate's 10-minute talk was on Nine Fine Lines of Thought and summarized the history of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present in 9 haikus, a total of 153 syllables. Intarsia designs illustrated each haiku, projected on large twin screens. Kate had also prepared two special puzzles as exchange gifts for the attendees. Both had a theme of "9"feel free to print them out for yourself and try them:
Special thanks to Elijah Allen and Eric Bare for help with the Kadon display two floors up from the conference hall. The exhibit was open only during breaks, for about 20 minutes at a time, and visitors made the most of such short bursts of access. It was great to meet in person customers we knew only through correspondence, and to greet again friends of many years, and to see their kids become our next generation of fans.
A high point of the presentations was the introduction by Zdravko Zivkovic of his newest edgematching puzzle set, MemorIQ, based on hexagons with 4 colors. MemorIQ was published just before the end of 2010.
At the end of March 2012, for the 10th Gathering, the theme of "10" or "X" was central in many of the dozens of presentations by the eminent group of scholars, mathematicians, magicians, puzzle designers and philosophers. Kate's 5-minute talk took the form of 10 couplets of iambic pentameter to encapsulate 10 stages of the cycles of infinity, in Ten Powerful Thoughts Iambically Defined, with a bit of humor and embedded references to Martin Gardner's work. The presentation was illustrated with ten of Kadon's puzzles having an aspect of 10, such as 10 pieces or 10x10 grids or 10-fold symmetry. Or you can view the entire PowerPoint presentation in its original form.
Kate's exchange gift on this occasion was a paper version of the ten-piece Bowties set (get it?10 pieces, X shapes!). You can download it for yourself, cut the pieces out with scissors, and play:
- Bowties (.pdf, 199kb), special print edition
One of the most colorful presentations was by Zdravko Zivkovic, inventor of Kadon's MemorIQ and Doris, introducing his newest tiling set, Grand Bowties, which also had its world premiere at the Gathering. Zdravko had brought his older daughter, Teodora (age 16), to present an interesting supporting theme, of the value of mind exercise both for children's development and for older people's brain health, and how fun and challenging puzzles best serve these needs. Zdravko has been organizing puzzle-solving tournaments throughout Serbian schools and is branching out his mission into Romania and other Eastern European countries.
Read a more detailed report by our friend and fellow polyform enthusiast, David Goodger. David's talk was on polyform puzzles and new results.
Celebrations of Mind
Martin Gardner passed away on May 22, 2010, at age 95. His fans world-wide held Celebration of Mind parties on his birthday, October 21, 2010, in 66 countries. Annual Celebration of Mind events are being planned around the world for every October 21, and the large biannual Gathering for Gardner conferences continue in Atlanta. Martin Gardner's legacy endures. We're sad to report that the moving force and organizer behind the Gatherings for Gardner, Thomas Rodgers, passed away in Atlanta after a short illness, just ten days after the tenth G4G. The foundation he created will continue his work.
The first annual Celebration of Mind in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area was hosted by the Mathematics Association of America at their headquarters in Washington on October 21, 2010, in collaboration with Bill Ritchie and ThinkFun, Inc. Attendees gave short talks about Martin and how he had inspired four generations with a love of recreational mathematics, magic and puzzles. Look for Kate Jones's and other G4G Celebration videos on YouTube.
On October 21, 2012, we dedicated the entire last day of the 2012 Maryland Renaissance Festival season as a Celebration of Mind for Martin Gardner's birthday. Hundreds of visitors had a chance to play and think and hear about "Polyform Puzzlesparadigms of world and mind."
October 20, 2013, was the last day of the 2013 Maryland Renaissance Festival season, and our pavilion again hosted a day-long Celebration of Mind for Martin's 99th birthday. Our evolving theme: "Polyform Puzzlesportals to world and mind." We had designed a special souvenir puzzle for visitors and customers. You're invited to print it out and work it, too.