When Erno Rubix invented the cube in 1974, he had no idea that it would become one of the world’s best-selling toys. Nor did he imagine that it would influence fields as diverse as science, art, and design.
It is a combination puzzle made up of plastic pieces that can be turned to make different configurations. Its complexity is based on its ability to be solved by a sequence of moves that use a number of complicated mathematical principles of group theory.
Invented by Erno Rubik
Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and architect, invented the rubix speedcube, or magic cube, in 1974. He used it to teach his architecture students how to solve three-dimensional problems.
After experimenting with several different designs, Rubix finally decided on the one that was easy to manipulate and that held together without breaking when twisted. He added 54 stickers to the puzzle, each containing a different colour, which was visible as the pieces shifted and moved around.
He took the cube to international toy fairs, but sales were limited. Then, at the 1980 Nuremberg Toy Fair, a marketer named Tom Kremer saw it and made a deal to bring it to America.
Since then, it has become a staple in the toy industry and has been praised for its brain-bending elegance. It also has been used as a teaching tool in physics and group theory, a subfield of abstract mathematics. Erno Rubik has also established a foundation to help promising inventors in Hungary.
Invented by Larry Nichols
When he was a boy, Larry Nichols of Xenia, Ohio was obsessed with puzzles. He invented a variety of games, and in the 1970s he came up with a cube that could be rotated in various ways.
The Rubik cube became a worldwide phenomenon when it was first released, and it has over 43 quintillion configurations. Initially the cube was designed to appeal to people with science, math or engineering backgrounds, but it quickly found its way to everyone else who liked the challenge of rearranging different shapes in a new way.
The invention of the Rubik cube was preceded by a series of vaguely similar puzzle ideas that included polyhedra, or twisty puzzles. These experiments would later lead to the work of Uwe Meffert, who would go on to become an important figure in the development of twisty puzzles.
Invented by Rubik’s son
Invented by Erno Rubik, the cube was first sold as a tool to help students understand the fundamentals of three-dimensional shapes. He was inspired to create it after experimenting with a design problem: How could he connect eight wooden cubes without them falling apart?
When the cube first hit the market, there was a lot of misinformation about how Rubik invented it. Many people erroneously reported that Rubik worked on the cube day and night for weeks – this simply wasn’t true.
He was simply tinkering with cubes that he found in his bedroom, as well as various odds and ends – including crayons, string and sticks. He was a sculptor who had a love of geometric designs, and this puzzle allowed him to combine those interests.
Invented by a speedsolver
A speedsolver, if you’re unfamiliar with the sport, is someone who attempts to solve a Rubik’s cube (or its many variations) in as little time as possible. Speed cubing competitions are held around the world, with winners determined by recording the shortest time to complete a series of solvable sequences.
The cube is a complex object to manipulate, and solving it requires a lot of skill and a well thought out plan. Some of the most sophisticated solutions use a combination of algorithms and complex mathematical equations to achieve a successful solution.
One such algorithm uses a series of three to five steps that may seem counterintuitive to a novice. It involves a cleverly engineered tessellation of the pieces, which may be more complicated than a standard cube assembler would imagine. A similar process is used to reassemble the same sequence in reverse order, although this may be a bit trickier. The most important thing to remember is that the tiniest mistake can cost you an entire puzzle.