A three-dimensional combination puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube has been fascinating children and adults since it was first officially licensed in 1980. A cube with six faces covered by nine stickers of white, red, orange, blue, yellow, and green.
Today, there are over 350 million Rubik’s Cubes that have been sold since the product was first licensed in 1980. While many people associate the cube with the 1980s when it first hit the scene, it is arguably the highest selling puzzle game today.
The Origins of the Rubik’s Cube
By the turn of the 1970s, there were two early versions of three dimensional puzzle games patented, but nothing really came of them. However, by the mid-1970s Erno Rubik, who worked in the Dept. of Interior Design of the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest came up with the idea of a three-dimensional cube with moving parts. Although rumor was that Rubik wanted to create a teaching tool, his real purpose was to build a device with parts that moved independently, but stayed connected.
Rubik didn’t realize he had created a puzzle game until he scrambled his cube and tried to put it back to its original orientation. He obtained a patent for it in 1975 and the puzzle was originally called the “Magic Cube”. The cube enjoyed modest success in Europe, but it wasn’t until it was released internationally in 1980 did it really take off.
The Success of the Rubik’s Cube
The international debut of the “Magic Cube” was made at toy fairs in Paris, Nuremburg, New York, and London in the early part of 1980. After a few suggestions at a new name, it was finally settled as “Rubik’s Cube” after the inventor.
The puzzle game was an almost immediate international smash with so many units selling in the first year that there was a big shortage of Rubik’s Cubes for the remainder of 1980. Other toy companies tried to fill in the gap with their own versions that were just different enough to avoid copyright violations, but they were mostly cheap imitations that gained little traction compared to the original cube.
So popular was the Rubik’s Cube that a book by Patrick Bossert titled “You Can Do the Cube” that was released in 1981 sold over 1.5 million copies. By the following year, the first International Rubik’s Cube championships were held and the puzzle game became a true 80s phenomenon. Children and adults all around the world became fascinated with the cube which continued to sell at a remarkable pace.
Today, the Rubik’s Cube is still selling incredibly well in both the original version and a new one released in 2013 that offers faster action as well a durable tiles that replace the old stickers. The World Championships are still held in Budapest with none other than Erno Rubik himself awarding the prizes. For each generation, the fascination with the Rubik’s Cube puzzle game continues to grow and will no doubt carry on well into the future.