Jan 24, 2021

What Makes the Rubik's Cube so Legendary?

Kristin Kerr

erhaps you grew up solving Rubik’s Cubes on the daily, or maybe you never actually figured it out and just spent hours trying to figure out this popular toy. Well, don’t feel too bad about yourself if you’ve never solved a Rubik’s Cube because there’s only one solution out of 43 quintillion possible combinations. Rubik’s Cubes are one of the most popular toys of all time, and there are even competitions for ‘speedcubers’. What Makes the Rubik's Cube so Legendary? Aside from its popular colour combinations and ability to twist and turn without breaking, there’s actually a lot of compelling history behind the cube, some may even consider it legendary.


Rubik’s Cube Heritage

What Makes the Rubik's Cube so Legendary? Let's start with some of the early beginnings. The famous 3-D toy was invented in 1974 by a Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor, Ernő Rubik. Though its original name was the Magic Cube, the name Rubik’s Cube originated after the toy gained a license to be sold by Ideal Toy Corp in 1980. Now, why did Ernő Rubik create this complexity in the first place? Well, he actually wanted to help his architecture students understand three-dimensional problems through a moveable art piece. After he built the first cube, it took him over one month to solve it. 


Gaining Popularity

The cube was officially launched to the world in 1980, and sales were quite modest and Ideal Toy Corp wasn’t reporting anything out of the ordinary in terms of sales. However, these numbers took a turn in 1981 when the company released an advertising campaign, leading the Rubik’s Cube to become a worldwide craze, achieving millions of sales. It was around this time when books even started being released encouraging others that they could solve the cube.

World Championships

In 1982 the toy had gained so much popularity that world championships started being held to see who could solve the cube in record time. The first championship was held in Budapest on June 5, 1982, with a record time of 22.95 seconds. 


Recent Years

What Makes the Rubik's Cube so Legendary? Since then, the popularity of the Rubik’s Cube hasn’t died, in fact, it’s become even more legendary in recent years. We’re talking about Rubik’s Cube appearances on renowned television series like The Simpsons and music videos from popular artists, such as The Spice Girls. In 1995, Diamond Cutters International even made a specialty masterpiece cube for the 15th anniversary of the toy, valued at $2.5 million - and yes, it was as sparkly and shiny as you could imagine. In 2003, Disney Pop Century Resort opened, featuring a massive Rubik’s Cube at the entrance of the Resort. Not only was the cube featured in the film, Dude, Where’s My Car, it also made appearances in the Pursuit of Happiness and Big Bang Theory. The Empire State Building even lit up in Rubik’s Colours. In 2014, to celebrate the toy’s 40th birthday, the Rubik’s Cube was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Come 2017, the Rubik’s Brand hit a record year with retail sales reaching upwards of $250 million. In 2018, Rubik’s partnered up with Red Bull for another championship, except this time the prize consisted of a $30,000 prize purse and Super Bowl style-Rings from the one and only, Diamond Cutters International. It’s also no surprise that Rubik’s most recently has an apparel collaboration with Puma.


In response to many teachers' requests for affordable cubes as classroom resources, the ‘You Can Do the Rubik’s Cube’ - an educational community outreach program launched in the United States, providing thousands of students and teachers combined with resources to incorporate into their curriculum.  This exact program gave over 800,000 students a cube to help them learn critical STEM concepts, and in 2018, the program expanded into Canada. 

Legendary Indeed

So, next time you’re staring at that Rubik’s Cube on your friends bookshelf, instead of just glancing at it, take a moment to ask yourself, What Makes the Rubik's Cube so Legendary? It’s a lot more than a colourful cube at the end of the day. What all started with a caring professor in search of a good task for students turned into so much more. 

"When you are studying from a book, lots of people go straight to the end to look for the answers. But that’s not my style. For me, the most enjoyable part is the puzzle, the process of solving, not the solution itself." - Ernő Rubik

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