The Rubik’s Cube is highly regarded as one of the most recognizable toys in the world, and it continues to be a popular toy because of its simplistic design and addictive gameplay. Originally named “Magic Cube,” the Rubik’s Cube has been around since the 1970s and experienced several peaks in its popularity that happened in the 1980s and the 2000s.
Despite many people knowing what a Rubik’s Cube is and how to play the toy, most of them probably don’t know who invented it and how it was conceptualized. To fill you in on the story of the Rubik’s Cube invention, here is a brief history of the toy from its creation to its resurgence today.
In the early 1970s, the creator of the Rubik’s Cube named Ernő Rubik worked for the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts’ Department of Interior Design located in Budapest, Hungary. During his tenure at the academy, he tried to conceptualize a cube wherein you can move its different parts independently without taking it apart. Although it was widely believed after the invention of the toy that the concept rose from Rubik’s intention of teaching his students to understand 3D objects more, Rubik stated that he initially only want to build the cube out of curiosity.
Upon building a larger cube that is made up of several smaller cubes that can be moved multiple times, Rubik realized that he might have actually built a puzzle because of how tricky it was to turn or rotate the small cubes back to their original placement. Rubik then applied a patent for the toy on January 30, 1975, with its name being “Bűvös Kocka,” which translated to English as “Magic Cube.”
The first batch of the Magic Cube was produced in 1977 and was sold in toy shops around Budapest. After seeing the potential of the Magic Cube in becoming the next big thing in the toy industry, a businessman named Tibor Laczi asked for the permission of Rubik to show the Magic Cube to the Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany. Rubik approved Laczi’s request, and the businessman brought the Magic Cube to the said toy fair in February 1979.
Tom Kremer, the founder of a toy company called Seven Towns, saw the Magic Cube at the toy fair and expressed interest in releasing it worldwide. Laczi, Kremer, and Rubik then signed a deal in September 1979 with Ideal Toy to officially launch the Rubik’s Cube as a toy that can be sold in many countries.
However, before they could sell the Magic Cube to other countries, Ideal Toys wanted to change the cube’s name because it is too generic. Many names were considered, with two of them being Inca Gold and The Gordian Knot, but the team finally decided to name it Rubik’s Cube because Rubik’s surname is relatively unique, and it allows the toy to stand out in stores because of its peculiar name.
Once the Rubik’s Cube released in the United States in 1980, Ideal Toys launched several advertising campaigns to boost the sales of the toy, and some of these campaigns include making television and newspaper ads. The advertising campaigns were proven to be successful, as the Rubik’s Cube became the most popular toy in 1981.
The first speedcubing competition, wherein people would compete on who would solve a Rubik’s Cube the fastest, was first conducted in Munich, Germany by the Guinness Book of World Records in March 1981. Guinness’s search for the fastest speedcuber is still on-going.
But the craze quickly died down in 1982 since there was no interest in buying new cubes because of how almost every household owns at least one Rubik’s Cube. However, the toy was still quite popular in other countries like Russia and China from the late 1980s to the 1990s.
The Rubik’s Cube experienced a revival in popularity in the 2000s, as speedcubing became one of the most popular competitions for kids and teenagers. The World Rubik’s Games Championship was revived in 2003 after its last appearance in 1982. Because of how many participants were competing in the tournament, the older competitors were inspired to form the World Cube Association in 2004 to maintain the toy’s popularity up to the present.
The Best Rubik’s Cubes and Cube Imitations
After the Rubik’s Cube patent expired in 2000, there have been many companies around the world that have produced imitations and different versions of the cube, with some even being considered as better toys than the original. These are just some of the best toy cubes you can find online and in toy stores.
Regarded as the best toy cube for speedcubers, D-FantiX Qiyi Jelly Speed Cube is made of ABS material the produces almost no friction, making its parts faster to turn and rotate. The Jelly Speed Cube also doesn’t have any stickers on it, which is an advantage since stickers would often fade and peel off after constant interaction with the user’s fingers.
Another speed cube, the Puzfic Amazing Smart Cube has no stalling corners that may impede your fast turning ability, and it also has a tension-able design to eliminate the toughness found on most cubes that makes them feel like they are going to break. Each cube found in the toy is colored up its inner areas, making it easier for users to see the cubes’ colors.
The second best-selling toy cube next to the original, The Cube by aGreatLife is more durable than other imitations and turns quicker and more precisely than the Rubik’s Cube. The Cube comes in a neat packaging that contains plenty of quotes and messages to keep you entertained before playing the toy cube.
The Coogam Qiyi Cube Keychain is the perfect toy for those who want a smaller cube that can be attached to their bag or even in their pants. This toy cube has a rounder appearance compared to the original, but it can still turn smoother and quicker despite its small size. Since it is a keychain, it comes with a detachable chain and keyring.
Now we are going to the realm of weird and peculiar toy cubes, and first up is the D-Fanti Fidget Spinner Cube, which combines a fidget spinner and a speed cube into one toy. Besides having a shuriken-like shape, the Fidget Spinner Cube still turns really well like a regular toy cube, but its odd shape is supposed to help it rotate faster once it is used as a fidget spinner.
The CuberSpeed Twist Speed Cube looks like a Rubik’s Cube that is twisted at the top in a clockwise manner. Because of its unique shape, it is harder to solve, which makes it the perfect toy cube for cubing veterans who want to take on a different challenge.
Another weird toy, the ViVi Do Speed Cube doesn’t even look like a cube once you take it out of the box; instead, it looks like a windmill because of the sharp triangle-shaped pieces found at each corner of the toy. However, the toy will look like a regular cube once you solve it.
A pair of odd-looking cubes, the JoyTown Speed Cube Bundle has a gold mirror cube and a Megaminx cube that has more corners than the Rubik’s cube. The gold mirror cube is easier to solve because of the different shapes of its parts, but the Megaminx is arguably one of the hardest cubes to solve because of its multiple pentagon-shaped corners.
The Coogam Qiyi 5×5 Speed Cube features five smaller cubes in each corner, which makes it harder to solve than the original toy cube. Like the previous Qiyi cubes, the toy is made of ABS material that is injected with different colors so that the smaller cubes wouldn’t need stickers to indicate their color.
Last but not least, we have the classic Rubik’s Cube that is still being sold today after more than 40 years. The Rubik’s Cube comes with a stand that features the toy’s iconic name so you can display it on your desk or in almost any area of your home.
Despite having so many imitations and copies that are considered to be better in quality and design, the Rubik’s Cube remains to be the most popular choice for kids and adults alike.