A Look Into the Complicated History of the Rubik’s Cube

The multi-colored three-dimensional cube, otherwise known as the Rubik's cube, fills shelves and homes of devoted cubers and nostalgia lovers to this day. Still, it underwent a custody battle and legal action to obtain the status it has today. 

In 1974, Ernő Rubik taught architecture and design at the University of Budapest, but the class that led him to his profound invention was “Descriptive Geometry.” Throughout this course, Rubik urged his students to learn about three-dimensional issues with two-dimensional pictures.

Rubik intrigued his classmates further with a three-dimensional wooden cube he called “The Magic Cube.” He used wood, tape, paper, and rubber bands to hold the object together.

In addition, he placed stickers on each open square to help his students follow the lesson.

Each face of the cube had nine individual pieces, and Rubik decorated each face with red, orange, yellow, green, white, and blue stickers. The same colors remain on official cubes today. 

While great in theory, his idea quickly ran him into territory he couldn't get himself out of. Rubik had scrambled the cube and did not yet know the solution to solve the puzzle. But, as all great mathematicians would, he took the cube home, worked on it for a month, and solved the mystery.

A year later, Rubik applied for a patent for the magic cube as a spatial logic toy. However, toy distributors met him with disinterest since his “toy” did not resemble any other popular toys in stores.

Finally, in 1977, one company picked up the toy and created 5,000 plastic iterations.  The success began small, but Rubik faced further issues with distribution because Hungary was still under communist control.

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