The Rubik’s Cube reaches a landmark birthday in May 2010. It is 30 years since Hungarian university lecturer Erno Rubik unleashed his mind-boggling coloured cube on an unsuspecting public.
Within weeks of its launch in 1980, it went global – and today it remains the most popular puzzle in the world.
It is truly a global phenomenon. More than 350 million pieces have been sold during the Rubik’s Cube’s 30-year lifespan – around 100 million of those in the first two years following its launch, 1980 and 1981.
In those heady days, The Cube was everywhere – people could be seen in the playground, on buses and trains, at home, at work… twisting and twiddling the puzzle to find the correct solution – that restored the coloured squares to their original position with all the faces of the same hue.
After the initial explosion of popularity, when it became (and has remained) one of the most readily identifiable icons of the century, the Rubik’s Cube’s star waned a little. But, throughout the world, it has remained steadfastly evident on the retail shelves. And now it’s back big-time – just as popular, just as intriguing, compulsive or
frustrating (depending on your point of view!).
The new century has brought a whole new generation of ‘Cubers’ into the Rubik’s family. Whereas in the 1980s, the end-game was simply to solve the puzzle, now both solving and speed are the ultimate challenges. At national and international competitions, ‘Speedcubers’ (as they are now known) compete to solve the puzzle in the quickest possible time. At the first World Championship in 1982, the fastest average solve was 22.9 seconds. In 2008, the ‘single solve’ record was set at an incredible 7.08 seconds. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, Cubers also solve the puzzle with their feet, or blindfolded, or while riding a skateboard, under water or while abseiling or free-falling from an aircraft.
What is the secret of this enduring international phenomenon? The Cube’s inventor Erno Rubik, originally a designer and engineer by training – and now living and working in his home city of Budapest, sums up its infinite appeal: “It’s simple but it’s complex; it’s stable but it’s flexible; it’s easy to understand but it takes dedication and patience to work it out.”
We ask Professor Rubik if, after 30 successful years, can The Cube last forever? “Emphatically, yes” he says. “Each decade or so, a new generation of Cube fans emerges, pushing the boundaries of the cubing and creating never-ending challenges.”
For more information on all things Rubik’s, log on to www.rubiks.com