The Rubick’s Cube

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Monday was the 40th anniversary of an iconic toy (I mean puzzle), the Rubick’s Cube.

Whether you call it a toy or a puzzle, I usually found them to be frustrating. Because of that, I’ve never actually owned one. The few interactions I had with them at a friend’s house never prompted me to ask my parents to buy me one.

When I did have dealings with this colored cube I marveled at how such a simple device can cause such frustration. While I put in only a few attempts at solving the puzzle, I never was successful.

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What I find interesting about this iconic plaything is how the inventor turned an attempt to create an educational tool into a multi-million dollar endeavor.

The inventor, Erno Rubick, invented the cube as a way to explain 3D geometry. After several years of development, Rubick was able to market the device in his home country of Hungary. But it was not until after he was able to get a deal with a major New York toy company in 1980 that they began to sell like hotcakes. These days they don’t sell so well, but people who grew up in the 80’s remember them very well and you can still find them on toy store shelves.

It is estimated that 350 million of the small plastic squares have been sold to date, making it the top-selling toy of all time. That means a lot of money for Rubick.

The best part of his invention is that it helps with problem solving skills, which was Rubick’s aim all along.

While it was not his initial aim to make money from what he created as a learning tool, Rubick was able to take an idea to the next level by securing a patent and marketing his product.

Now there’s a bit of inspiration.