Tetris logo 1986
Tetris logo, MS-DOS version 1986
Name: "Tetris"

Category: Video games

Subcategory: Arcade

Genre: Puzzle

Inventor: Alexey Pajitnov

--- Alexey Pajitnov
--- Dmitry Pavlovsky
--- Vadim Gerasimov

Invented: June 6, 1984 - Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, USSR

Released: 1984 (USSR), 1986 (EU), 1987 (USA)

Publishers: Mirrorsoft (Europe), Spectrum HoloByte (North America)

Platforms: prototype developed for Elektronika 60 (Russian clone of the PDP-11); first version developed under MS-DOS and released for IBM PC

Number of players: Originally single-player, then multiplayer

Features: Tetris was inspired by the puzzle board game pentominoes (a pentomino is a plane geometric figure formed by joining five equal squares edge to edge), but its inventor Alexey Pajitnov felt that it might have been too complicated with twelve different shape variations, so switched to tetrominoes, of which there are only seven variants. "Tetriminos" are game pieces shaped like tetrominoes, geometric shapes composed of four square blocks each. A random sequence of Tetriminos fall down the playing field (a rectangular vertical shaft, called the "well" or "matrix"). The objective of the game is to manipulate these Tetriminos, by moving each one sideways (if the player feels the need) and rotating it by 90 degree units, with the aim of creating a horizontal line of ten units without gaps. When such a line is created, it disappears, and any block above the deleted line will fall. Points are awarded for each Tetrimino successfully dropped into place. When a certain number of lines are cleared, the game enters a new level. As the game progresses, each level causes the Tetriminos to fall faster, and the game ends when the stack of Tetriminos reaches the top of the playing field and no new Tetriminos are able to enter. The prototype, programmed in Pascal on an Elektronika 60 - a Soviet clone of a Digital Equipment Corp. PDP-11 computer - features monochrome graphics, and the blocks in the tetrominos are represented by a pair of delete/rubout characters (character code 177); a later revision was made where the blocks are represented by a pair of square brackets instead.

Alexey Pajitnov
Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov
(Moscow, March 14, 1956)
video game developer and
creator of the puzzle game Tetris
Interesting facts: Tetris was created in June 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov, an artificial intelligence researcher working for the Soviet Academy of Sciences at their Computer Center in Moscow. Pajitnov chose the name "Tetris" after "tetra", the Greek word for four, and tennis, his favorite sport. The game proved popular with his colleagues. Academy of Sciences co-workers Dmitry Pavlovsky and Vadim Gerasimov ported the game to the IBM PC. From there, the PC game exploded into popularity, and began spreading all around Moscow. In 1986 Mirrorsoft, a British-based company, signed a deal to produce the game in the United Kingdom. In 1987 Spectrum HoloByte company released its IBM PC version of Tetris in the United States, where the game's popularity was tremendous. Tetris was the first entertainment software to be exported from the USSR to the US. Because the idea of intellectual property rights did not exist in Soviet Russia, as anything Pajitnov had made belonged to the state, he did not receive even a bonus for his work. In 1996, the rights to the game reverted from the Russian state to Pajitnov himself: The Tetris Company was founded, claiming to hold copyright registrations and taking out trademark registrations for Tetris in almost every country in the world.

Quote (Alexey Pajitnov): «I never imagined Tetris was going to be this successful. But the simple, yet addicting nature of Tetris still has me playing it a few times every week».

Property: The Tetris Company

Product website: http://tetris.com

Tetris prototype 1984
Tetris prototype, screenshot and gameplay (1984)

Tetris first version 1984
Tetris, first version screenshot (1984)

Tetris English version 1984 - title
Tetris English version 1984 - screenshot
Tetris, English version screenshots (1984). Since March 2013, this version is hosted in a permanent exhibit in New York City's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Tetris MS-DOS version 1986 - title
Tetris MS-DOS version 1986 - screenshot
Tetris, MS-DOS version screenshots and gameplay (1986)

Tetris advertising 1988
Tetris by Atari, advertising (1988)

Tetris arcade Atari 1988 cabinet
Tetris, arcade version cabinet and gameplay by Atari (1988). Single-player or competitive mode. The music was composed by Brad Fuller: some Traditional Russian tunes are used including Kalinka, Troika, and Katyusha. About the music introduced by Atari in the game, Tetris inventor Alexey Pajitnov said: «It was very embarrassing for me: when kids of the world hear these pieces of music, they start screaming: "Tetris! Tetris!" That's not very good for Russian culture».

Alexey Pajitnov and son
Tetris designer Alexey Pajitnov and son holding early copies of Tetris (1989)

Tetris 30th Anniversary
Tetris celebrates 30th Anniversary (1984-2014)