The concept of Mastermind goes back to parlor games like
Bulls and Cows. The first computer
implementation of the latter was
moo, a PL/I program
by J. M. Grochow.
In its current form, it was invented in 1970 by
Mordecai Meirowitz, an Israeli postmaster and telecommunications
expert. He failed to interest the big game companies, but finally
Invicta Plastics, a small toy manufacturer in Oadby, decided to
produce it. They sold over 50 million sets and made Meirowitz a
In 1977, Donald Knuth analyzed Mastermind and demonstrated that
any code can be cracked in a maximum of five moves.
An 8-bit Game
Mastermind was very popular on the 8-bit platforms, especially,
it seems, on the Commodore 64 (compare the number of
C64 Masterminds with the number of
Atari Masterminds). But then there were erotic Mastermind
implementations for Atari, like
Miss Mind or
which I haven't found for other platforms yet.
A Windows Game
The enthusiasm did not carry over into the 16-bit era. In the 90s,
Mastermind, like Black Box and
Missile Command, was popular on one platform only:
Windows. But there it was very popular, and spawned
more implementations than the other two concepts.