boy solving a rubiks cube

A Look Back On Erno Rubik, The Mind Behind the Rubik’s Cube

Erno Rubik is a name that most people will recognize instantly, and for good reason.

He is the inventor of one of the most iconic and enduring toys of the last century – the Rubik’s Cube.

The mind-bending puzzle is one of the best-selling toys of all time. Despite being a relatively simple puzzle, it has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world and has become a cultural icon in its own right.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the man behind the puzzle, and explore his life and the story behind the creation of the Rubik’s Cube.

Read More: Current Rubik’s Cube World Record


Who is Erno Rubik?

The Rubik’s Cube is one of the most iconic puzzles of all time. It has been beloved by puzzle enthusiasts worldwide since its invention in 1974.

But who made it?

Who solved the complex mathematics and engineering that went into making the cube?


Early Life and Education

Ernő Rubik is a Hungarian inventor, architect, and professor of architecture who was born on July 13, 1944, in Budapest, Hungary.

He grew up during a time of great political and social upheaval, as Hungary struggled to recover from the devastation of World War II and the Soviet Union exerted increasing control over the country.

Despite these challenges, Rubik showed an early talent for mathematics and science, and he pursued his interests in these subjects throughout his early education.

He attended the Technical University of Budapest and the Academy of applied arts, where he studied architecture and design.

It was during his time at the university that Rubik first began to experiment with puzzles and games.

Inventor Erno Rubik was particularly interested in creating puzzles that could help people to develop their spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills, and he spent many hours tinkering with different designs and prototypes.

In 1974, Rubik created his first puzzle, which he called the Magic Cube.

The puzzle was made up of 27 small cubes, and the objective was to arrange them in a way that would create a single, larger cube.

The Magic Cube was an instant hit, and Rubik was encouraged to take his creation to a toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany.


boy solving a rubiks cube

Early Career

The Hungarian architect got a degree in architecture from Budapest University of Technology and became a teacher in the interior design department at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest.

Rubik regularly used physical models and materials to teach concepts in construction and design.

Despite his success as an architect, Rubik continued to pursue his interest in puzzles and games, and he began to explore the potential of these tools for teaching and learning.

He got a degree in architecture at Budapest University of Technology and became a teacher in the interior design department at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest.

Rubik regularly used physical models and materials to teach concepts in construction and design.

He believed that puzzles and games could be used to help people develop their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, and he was determined to find ways to incorporate these tools into the field of education.

In the mid-1970s, Rubik began to work on a new puzzle that would eventually become the Rubik’s Cube.


 The Creation of the Rubik’s Cube

The Hungarian inventor began working on the puzzle in the mid-1970s, while he was still teaching at the Technical University of Budapest.

He got fixated in the spring of 1974 on finding a technique to simulate 3D motion for his students.

He spent months fiddling with wooden and paper cubes, fastened together with rubber bands, glue, and paper clips until he came up with what he named the “Bűvös kocka,” or Magic Cube.

The Rubik’s Cube Inventor’s breakthrough came when he realized that the puzzle could be solved by focusing on one face at a time.

By turning the cube in different directions and following a specific set of algorithms, it was possible to manipulate the individual cubes and eventually solve the puzzle.

The original Rubik’s Cube consists of 26 small cubes that rotate on a central axis; nine colored cube faces, in three rows of three each, form each side of the cube.

When the cube is twisted out of its original arrangement, the player must then return it to the original configuration, one among 43 quintillion possible ones.

With the puzzle now solved, Rubik began to experiment with different colors and designs for the cube.

He ultimately settled on a design that featured six different colors, with each face of the cube consisting of nine smaller cubes.

Read More: Evolution of the Rubik’s Cube


How Did The Rubik’s Cube Become A Craze?

Rubik applied to the Hungarian Patent Office in 1975 and called the cube a “spatial logic toy.”

At the time, Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain — it would remain a communist-controlled Eastern bloc state until 1989 — and as Rubik writes, the country had “no particular affinity for toy production.”

Puzzles were only sold in souvenir and specialty shops back then, and thinking of them as toys was a new era.

It debuted in Hungarian toy stores in 1977 and was shown in international toy fairs like the 1979 Nuremberg Toy Fair, when Tom Kremer, a marketer for Ideal Toy Company in the US, saw it.

He struck a deal to bring it to America. A company called Ideal Toy was given the contract – but insisted on changing the name first. They suggested “Rubik’s Cube”.

That was a smart move since Rubik’s name was so unique that it could be protected as a trademark. In 1980, Erno Rubik came to the United States to show off his cube at the New York Toy Fair.

The cube’s success appeared to be short-lived: Although The New York Times branded it “beyond its prime” and a “fad” in 1982, these judgments proved to be incorrect.

Rubik wasn’t the most charismatic salesman. He was a shy professor who spoke English poorly.

But Ideal really needed him to be there for one reason. He was the only one who could solve the Rubik’s Cube in front of the people who bought the toys.

You could say that demonstration kinda worked.
Helped along by a TV commercial, the Rubik’s Cube quickly became a global phenomenon, with 100 million units selling in just three years.


The Rubik’s Cube has been added to the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1982, Hungary hosted the very first Rubik’s Cube World Championship. In just 22.9 seconds, the winner found the solution.

Soon, Rubik’s Cube became part of pop culture.

Today, nearly 50 years after its invention, Rubik’s Cube is still a huge seller. Over 450 million have been sold – making it the best-selling toy in history. And the pandemic has boosted sales.

The current Guinness World Record for the fastest time to solve a 3x3x3 rotating puzzle cube is 3.47 seconds by Yusheng Du (China) at the Wuhu Open 2018 in Wuhu, Anhui province, China, on 24 November 2018.

It’s incredible to think that out of 43 quintillion variations, just one will work.

In 2021, Canadian firm Spin Master Toys paid $50 million to acquire the rights to produce and distribute the Cube.


The Speed Cubers: A Must Watch

The Speed Cubers is a 2020 documentary on the lives of speedcubing champions Max Park and Feliks Zemdegs directed by Sue Kim.

The Netflix documentary got an outstanding rating of 100% from Rotten Tomatoes.

Some of the footage was shot at the World Cube Association’s World Championships 2019 held in Melbourne, Australia.

Coming in at an accessible 40 minutes, the film is a short, barely feature-length documentary about speed cubing, the act of solving different types of Rubik’s Cubes as quickly as possible.

The ability to solve a Rubik’s cube at lightning speed is incredible. The average person would take hours to solve a 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube if given the chance, yet the best can do it in a matter of seconds.

The Speed Cubers delves into this subculture by concentrating on the lives of two of its most prominent members: the legendary Feliks Zemdegs and the new king of speed cubing, Max Park.

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