Thursday, November 13, 2008

Erno Rubik

Erno Rubik invented the Rubik's Cube in Spring 1974 in Budapest, Hungary. Rubik wanted to make a geometric puzzle, so took blocks of wood attached to elastic springs and made an early version of the Rubik's Cube. After the elastic broke, Rubik redesigned the cube with a universal joint type mechanism and put color tape on the outside.

Rubik twisted the cube and found it was difficult to align the colors again, in fact, it took him a month of work to figure out the mathematics of the cube and solve it. The cube Rubik designed has one solution out of three quintillion different possibilities.

Rubik took his invention to a small toy making company in Budapest. The company produced the toy on a small scale and the Rubik's Cube gained in popularity purely through word of mouth.

It wasn't until Tibor Laczi came upon the toy that it became a sensation. Laczi recognized the toy would be a success and so went to Hungary's state trading firm asking for permission to sell the toy in the West. Laczi then met Tom Kremer, a British toy expert, at a trade fair and soon struck a deal with him to produce a million cubes through the Ideal Toy Company.

With this agreement and the Rubik's Cube huge success, Erno Rubik became one of the first self made millionaires from the Communist block.

HT: Frank

Van Dulken, Stephen. Inventing the 20th Century. New York: New York University Press, 2002. History of the Rubik's Cube

1 comment:

Tenure said...

And surprise surprise... he had to sell to the West. Somehow such a success was not possible making such a sales pitch in the Soviet bloc, eh? Jeez, I wonder why not...