First launched in 1979, the multi-coloured 3D cube puzzle is still going strong.
Whether you love it or loathe it, Erno Rubik's invention shows no sign of diminishing in popularity as yet another generation of gamer's are taking up the challenge. It's estimated that the Rubik’s Cube is now played by more than a billion people, and 480 million units of Rubik’s Cubes and merchandise are expected to be sold globally this year alone.
In 1979, Erno Rubik - a Hungarian architect - licensed the cube to US company Ideal Toys and the following year it was launched to the international market. The cube was an instant success worldwide and became a staple of 1980s popular culture. Erno Rubik is now worth $110 million and Ideal Toys must have made billions on the back of their deal.
Four decades on, the brightly coloured 3D puzzle is gaining cult status once more, this time among a younger generation, who are sharing videos of themselves solving it on social media - and even competing in “speedcubing” events.
Now two British teenagers are set to take part in the final of the Rubik’s Cube world cup, which takes place virtually this week. They’ll be attempting to beat the current record holder Yusheng Du who can solve the puzzle in a jaw-dropping 3.47 seconds. That's not a typo. Under 4 seconds is the world record!
Lockdown could also have played a part in boosting its popularity among the young, according to the puzzle’s maker. Rubik’s chief executive, Christoph Bettin said views and content on social media have increased significantly during lockdown and sales have risen by double digits in all major markets, and "there has been exceptional interest in solving the cube during lockdown as the popularity in puzzles generally has soared.”
Erno Rubik told the Observer the reason it’s still so popular 40 years on is that it “speaks to the noblest, universally shared human characteristics: curiosity, playfulness, problem-solving and intelligence”.