The Rubik’s Cube turns 50

If you’ve ever had trouble solving a Rubik’s Cube, a good piece of advice is to break it down into steps. It’s worth a shot: that advice is from the man who made it.

Rubik’s Cube

Erno Rubik, who invented the cube in 1974, has seen his color-matching puzzle go from a classroom teaching tool in Cold War-era Hungary to a worldwide phenomenon with over 450 million cubes sold and a mini-empire of related toys.

The original 3×3 Rubik’s has 43 quintillion possible configurations.

But for the past 50 years, the principles behind the cube have been refashioned for 2×2, 4×4 and 5×5 cubes, a board game called Rubik’s Race, a pyramid, a tower and a Christmas tree, among others.

It even made the transition to electronic media with Rubik’s Revolution and Rubik’s Touch. Spin Master acquired the brand in 2021.

Their latest brain-teaser is called The Phantom, which takes the 3×3 original cube and adds a memory test: using thermochromic technology, the multi-color tiles revert to black unless the heat of the user’s hand keeps them visible.

The goal of all Rubik puzzles is to start with some randomized and shuffled messy configuration and, by rotating faces or parts, get each side being a single color or a pattern of colors.

Practiced cube-solvers can complete the Rubik’s Cube in a matter of seconds, with the current world-record holder solving a cube in 3.47 seconds.

There are also records at the World Cube Association for fastest solving while wearing a blindfold or one-handed.

It took 36 years after the invention of the toy for anyone to come up with an answer for the minimum number of moves to solve it.

In 2010, a group of mathematicians and computer programmers proved that any Rubik’s Cube can be solved in 20 moves.

The brain-bending elegance of the Rubik’s Cube is part of the reason it has endured, while other faddish toys and games have not.

In 2014, it landed in the National Toy Hall of Fame, joining such childhood classics as Barbie, Hot Wheels, G.I. Joe and the Hula Hoop.

“Problem solving, it’s a very basic activity of the human mind. And if a problem is complex, you need to divide the problem into smaller elements, smaller pieces,” Erno Rubik said. “And so for me, that cube represented what freedom means. Freedom is never endless. So that does not exist, endless freedom – all the time there are limitations of freedom. But the important thing is to find what the real potential is of the freedom and which lets you do what is necessary to achieve your goals so that and everything is there, so it depends only you.”

Categories: National News