Important Dates in Rubik’s Cube History
There are many different hobbies nowadays for all different types of people. Most intellectual and brain-stretching hobbies are fairly modern and rely on technology. The Rubik’s Cube has one thing that most modern hobbies and pastimes can’t challenge – A history and worldwide accolades that prove its impact on society all throughout its lifetime. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the key dates throughout the history of the Rubik’s Cube, including different variations of puzzles and, the most popular branch, speedcubing.
We have a separate article about the evolution of cubing hardware.
The cube is invented
After many different prototypes and versions of the cube being created, in 1974 Erno Rubik finally finished his final prototype 3×3 Rubik’s Cube. The cube was fairly large and made out of wood, with corners that were cut down due to the size of the object. It was here where Rubik realised he couldn’t actually solve what he had created, and spent a month figuring out how to do so.
In 1975 Rubik received a patent for his “Magic Cube” in Hungary.
Test batches released in Hungary
The cube was released for the first time in Budapest toy shops in late 1977. The version that was released meant the cube could not easily be pulled apart or broken, ideal qualities of children’s toys.
Worldwide Distribution deal signed
It took several years before the cube was actually released worldwide, a total of 4 between patent receipt and release. This was due to “Iron Curtain” that separated Europe prior to the decline of communism at the time, and this made any worldwide distribution difficult.
The World sees the cube
In early 1980, the Rubik’s Cube made its international debut in toy fairs across the world. It had to be changed slightly as the West had different regulations in regards to packaging and safety specifications. During this time, the name was changed to credit the inventor, and thus the Rubik’s Cube was officially born.
In the same year, David Singmaster published the first layer-by-layer method, a method which is still used by many puzzlers and beginner speedcubers even today.
In 1980 and 1981, the Rubik’s Cube received the UK Toy of the Year award, and in the first 3 years of its release it sold 100 million units. The cube today has sold over 3 times that figure, making it the best-selling toy of all time.
Patrick Bossert also saw success in 1981, as his book entitled “You Can Do The Cube” which taught the reader how to solve their own cube sold 1.5 million copies.
The speed picks up
In 1982, the first Rubik’s Cube World Championship was held in the capital of Hungary. 20 competitors, all selected from smaller competitions in their home countries, came together to solve the Rubik’s Cube as fast as possible. The victor was Minh Thai, an American teenager, who solved the cube in 22.95 seconds. He then later published a book entitled “The Winning Solution”, which also taught others how to solve the Rubik’s Cube. The Ortega Corners-First method that is still used by some today was based off of Thai’s book.
During the next two decades, as the World began to move on to different toys and inventions (especially with the daily technological advances that hooked the attention of the World), the Rubik’s Cube faded from the public view. It still remained on the shelves and still sold incredibly well, but the hype that originated back in its starting years had pretty much died off. The cube did make occasional appearances in the news, however, such as the Masterpiece Cube that was created in 1995 by Diamond Cutters Int. Valued at $1.5 million, it is the most expensive Rubik’s Cube in the World. However, as the Rubik’s Cube became less of a common sight in Christmas wish lists, speedcubing was born and began to thrive.
The Fridrich Method
In 1997, Jessica Fridrich published her methods for solving the Rubik’s Cube online. The Fridrich method (also known as CFOP, an acronym for the stages of the puzzle) is regarded today as the best speedcubing method, and the world record single and average times have been held by Fridrich solvers for many years, despite Fridrich herself estimating that the method would not be efficient for consistent times under 13 seconds.
The World Cube Association
In 2003, Ron Van Bruchem and Tyson Mao founded the World Cube Association. This was the first official organisation that would be responsible for the running of official speedcubing competitions and monitoring of national and international achievements. The WCA has helped grow speedcubing and has taken the hobby to many new countries. The WCA is today recognised as the official speedcubing association and any potential World Records must be set under WCA regulations and delegation before they are recognised.
In this year, the second World Championship took place. Dan Knight was the victor this time, winning with a time of 20.00 seconds.
25 years of the Rubik’s Cube
The cube celebrated its 25th birthday in 2005. A special edition cube packaging was created to celebrate. Also during this year, the third World Championship took place. In this one, Jeans Pons won with a time of 15.10 seconds.
40th year since the Rubik’s Cube’s invention
In 2014, the Rubik’s Cube celebrated 40 years since its invention back in 1974. An interactive Rubik’s Cube doodle was released on the front page of Google on the day, and the Beyond Rubik’s Cube Exhibition was opened at the Liberty Science Centre in New Jersey, the same venue as the 2014 US National Rubik’s Cube competition. The exhibition displayed everything cube related from robots that could solve the puzzle to original wooden prototypes from Rubik himself.
The World Championships and European Championships are still held every 2 years (each taking place on different years), along with the yearly US Nationals. These events still consistently bring together hundreds of speedcubers and, whilst many don’t stand much of a chance against the world’s best, friendships are formed and the events are always huge successes.