Today: How Erno Rubik accidentally invented his famous Rubik's Cube.
Erno Rubik (born 1944) is a Hungarian sculptor and an architectural professor. In 1974, Rubik was working for the Hungarian government when he designed his Cube to solve a structural engineering problem in which he made all the little moving parts easily adjust without causing the device to fall apart. He succeeded but at first didn’t realize he had created a puzzle, and one that could appeal to a vast mass of people. This occurred to him when after he scrambled the pieces, he found it very challenging to put them back in order.
Realizing he was on to something with great potential; in 1975 Rubik named it “Magic Cube” and began obtaining patent rights. His first batch of Magic Cubes was shipped to Budapest toy stores in 1977, but they were not a great success. That would occur two years later when Rubik licensed them to the Ideal Toy Corporation, a U.S. company today owned by Mattel. Ideal quickly renamed Magic Cube, “Rubik’s Cube” to give it the memorable identity of its creator.
In early 1980, Ideal marketed Rubik’s Cubes at giant toy fairs in London, New York, Nuremberg and Paris to persuade toy distributors and retailers to carry the product. Ideal also made it highly visible to the general public, advertising it as fun and intellectually challenging.
Soon some TV and movie characters were using Rubik’s Cubes on screen and the print media covered it as well, all of which quickly captured the public’s imagination. The Cube became so popular; in just two years from 1980 to 1982 the public bought a staggering 100 million Rubik’s Cubes. After the craze passed, it still became a toy store staple and today its sales cumulatively exceed 350 million Cubes, the bestselling puzzle game ever.
It made Rubik wealthy and he has since developed more puzzles including “Rubik’s Revenge (a 4x4x4 cube). He also has a foundation to assist promising Hungarian inventors and he operates the Rubik Studio which designs toys and furniture. Yet it all began when he solved a structural engineering problem, at first with no idea it could become anything more.
Success Tip of the Week:
If you have an inventive mind, challenge yourself to see what you can create. Perhaps it will capture the public’s imagination as Rubik’s Cube has.
In the next KazanToday:
How a woman solved many of New York City’s seemingly intractable issues using “Bagel Diplomacy.”