Rubik's Cube

Rubik's Cube logo 1980
Rubik's Cube logo 1980
Original name: "Magic Cube" ("Bűvös Kocka", 1977)

Name: "Rubik's Cube" (1980)

Category: Toys - Games

Subcategory: Combination puzzle

Inventor: Ernő Rubik

First producers: Politechnika/Politoys (Hungary), Pentangle (UK), Ideal Toy (USA)

Invented in: 1974 - Hungary

Production start: 1977 (Hungary) - 1978 (UK) - 1980 (USA)

First price: 1.99 USD (1980)

Erno Rubik
Ernő Rubik
Budapest, July 13, 1944,
the Hungarian architect
who invented
the Rubik's Cube
Features: A standard Rubik's Cube measures 5.7 cm (approximately 2¼ inches) on each side. The puzzle consists of twenty-six unique miniature cubes, also called "cubies" or "cubelets". Each of these includes a concealed inward extension that interlocks with the other cubes, while permitting them to move to different locations. However, the centre cube of each of the six faces is merely a single square façade; all six are affixed to the core mechanism. These provide structure for the other pieces to fit into and rotate around. So there are twenty-one pieces: a single core piece consisting of three intersecting axes holding the six centre squares in place but letting them rotate, and twenty smaller plastic pieces which fit into it to form the assembled puzzle. In a classic Rubik's Cube, each of the six faces is covered by nine stickers, each of one of six solid colours: white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. White is opposite yellow, blue is opposite green, and orange is opposite red, and the red, white and blue are arranged in that order in a clockwise arrangement. On early cubes, the position of the colours varied from cube to cube. An internal pivot mechanism enables each face to turn independently, thus mixing up the colours. For the puzzle to be solved, each face must be returned to have only one colour. The puzzle is often advertised as having only "billions" of positions, as the larger numbers are unfamiliar to many. There are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 Rubik's Cube combinations, but for the puzzle to be solved, only one is correct. Similar puzzles have been produced with various numbers of sides, dimensions, and stickers, not all of them by Rubik.

Interesting facts: In March 1970, Larry Nichols invented a 2×2×2 "Puzzle with Pieces Rotatable in Groups" and filed a Canadian patent application for it. Nichols's cube was held together with magnets. Nichols was granted U.S. Patent 3,655,201 on April 11, 1972, two years before Rubik invented his Cube. In the mid-1970s, Ernő Rubik worked at the Department of Interior Design at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest. Although it is widely reported that the Cube was built as a teaching tool to help his students understand 3D objects, his actual purpose was solving the structural problem of moving the parts independently without the entire mechanism falling apart. He did not realize that he had created a puzzle until the first time he scrambled his new Cube and then tried to restore it. Rubik obtained Hungarian patent HU170062 for his "Magic Cube" in 1975. Rubik's Cube was first called the Magic Cube (Bűvös Kocka) in Hungary. The puzzle had not been patented internationally within a year of the original patent. Patent law then prevented the possibility of an international patent. The first test batches of the Magic Cube were produced in late 1977 and released in Budapest toy shops by Politechnika (renamed Politoys in 1980). In 1978 and 1979 it was distributed in UK by Pentangle. In September 1979, a deal was signed with Ideal Toy Corp. to release the Magic Cube worldwide, and the puzzle made its international debut at the toy fairs of London, Paris, Nuremberg and New York in January and February 1980, under the new name "Rubik's Cube".

Quote (Ernő Rubik): «If you are curious, you'll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them».

Property: Rubik's Brand Ltd.

Product website:

Larry Nichols' Cube
Dr. Larry D. Nichols with his cube puzzle, a progenitor of the Rubik's Cube, patented on April 11, 1972. In 1957 Dr. Nichols, a Massachusetts chemist, conceived of a twist cube puzzle with six colored faces. It was a 2x2x2 cube assembled from eight unit cubes with magnets on their inside faces, allowing the cubes to rotate in groups of four about three axes. The object of the puzzle was to mix the colors on the faces of the cube and then restore them. In 1968 a working prototype was constructed, and on April 11, 1972, U.S. patent 3655201 was issued covering the Nichols' Cube. The patent focused on the 2x2x2 puzzle but mentioned the possibility of larger versions. In 1985 a U.S. District Court ruled that Rubik's Cube infringed the Nichols patent, but in 1986 the Court of Appeals ruled that only the smaller 2x2x2 Rubik's Pocket Cube was guilty of infringement, and not the extremely popular 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube.

Nichols' Cube Patent
Figure from Patent granted to Larry D. Nichols (April 11, 1972)

Magic Cube rough prototype
Magic Cube, a rough prototype by Rubik featuring blocks held together by rubber bands

Magic Cube original prototype
Magic Cube prototype replica
Magic Cube, the original prototype in the hands of Ernő Rubik (1974) and a replica

Rubik's Cube Patent
Magic Cube, figure from Hungarian Patent granted to Ernő Rubik (January 30, 1975)

Magic Cube 1977
Magic Cube 1977 package
Magic Cube, the first batch produced in Hungary by Politechnika (1977)

Magic Cube 1978-1979
Magic Cube, first versions distributed in UK by Pentangle (left: 1978 - right: 1979)

Rubik's Cube first version 1980
Rubik's Cube, first version (1980). It was renamed from "Magic Cube" to "Rubik's Cube" and marketed worldwide by Ideal Toy Corp.

Rubik's Cube new package 1980
Rubik's Cube, new package by Ideal Toy Corp. (1980)

Rubik's Cube - Toy of the year 1980-81
Rubik's Cube, "Toy of the year" edition by Ideal Toy Corp. (1981). Rubik's Cube won its first "Toy of the year" awards in 1980 in Federal Republic of Germany, United Kingdom, France, and USA; in 1981 in Finland, Sweden and Italy.

Rubik's Cube, first TV commercial by Ideal Toy Corp. (1980)

Rubik's Cube celebrates 40th anniversary with a special exhibit in Jersey City (2014)