The Rubik’s cube was originally created by a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture. Though originally called the Magic Cube, the toy was renamed the Rubik’s cube when it was sold to the Ideal Toy Corp in 1980. The puzzle was awarded the German Game of the Year special award for Best Puzzle the year it was sold. By 2009, more than 350 million Rubik’s cubes had been sold worldwide.
The Rubik’s Cube consists of 6 sides. Each side has 9 squares, covered with a colored sticker. The stickers are white, red, blue, orange, green and yellow. The cubes have a special internal mechanism that allows each face to turn independently, allowing the cube to be twisted and turned in an endless number of ways. In order to solve the Rubik’s Cube and “win”, each side must have only 1 color.
The 1980s is considered the heyday of the Rubik’s Cube. The toys were wildly popular and the art of speed cubing began around this time. Speed cubers continue to practice today, breaking record after record for solving the puzzle faster than anyone has before. There’s even a World Cube Association, which Rubik’s Cube’s international governing body that maintains records for speed cubers.
Part of the toy’s popularity had to do with it being a fad, but an even larger part was likely spurred by parents wishing to get their kids a quiet toy that didn’t use batteries and was said to stimulate their minds. For parents, there was nothing more blessed on a snow-day than the silence invoked by a child furiously twisting and turning a Rubik’s Cube in an effort to solve the puzzle.
Kids that were able to solve their Rubik’s Cubes often showed them off to friends, claiming a sort of bragging right at being able to figure out the puzzle. Eventually, kids realized they could just pull the stickers off and rearrange them to make it look like they had solved the puzzle. This revelation is probably what led to the first speed cuber as a way of verifying that the puzzle had been solved without cheating. Painted-on colors were the next deterrent.
For kids that grew up in the 80s and even in the 90s, the Rubik’s Cube is probably a fond childhood memory. Whether you were a speed cuber, a cheater or never solved the puzzle, it’s likely that your parents loved the silence and you loved the simple challenge of beating the German game.