Rubik's Cube: the history behind the invention of the world’s most famous puzzle

The Rubik's Cube was invented in 1974 by Hungarian architect, engineer, and teacher Ernő Rubik. He created the cube as a visual aid for students who were having a hard time with “mathematical group theory”. In 1975, Ernő Rubik obtained a Hungarian patent for the Magic Cube. 

Right after creating the cube, Ernő Rubik had difficulty trying to solve it – it took him about a month to do it, and at first he was not sure it was possible. Later mathematicians have calculated that it takes 23 moves to restore a cube to its original state. Moreover, it is impossible to solve the puzzle by chance and the number of unique combinations of the cube amounts to more than 43 quintillion (43,252,003,274,489,856,000 to be precise). 

The puzzle went on sale in 1977, and in 1980 it became the toy of the year. 

As of today, the patent protection of the "Magic Cube" has expired. And in 2019 the long dispute initiated by a competitor of the Rubik's cube manufacturer about the validity of the European trademark EUTM Reg. No. 162784, which is a three-dimensional image of a cube, was put to rest. The European Court ruled that the trademark did not meet the criteria for protection because its shape was determined by the necessity to obtain a technical result (functioning as a three-dimensional puzzle). At the same time, the main function of a trademark is to distinguish the goods of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. 

Nevertheless, the Rubik's cube has not lost its popularity. To date, more than 400 million Rubik's cube have been sold worldwide. The sales are largely promoted by speedcubers - people who are engaged in competitive Rubik's cube speed solving. They hold competitions and set new records registered by the World Cube Association. The record, which in 2018 was set by Yusheng Du of China, who solved the cube in 3.47 seconds, has not yet been broken. Unless you count the result achieved by a special robot - 0.38 seconds. Another interesting achievement is that of Mohammed Aiman Koli of India, who solved the puzzle with his feet in 15.56 seconds. 

Ernő Rubik has donated part of the proceeds from the sale of the puzzle to the state to establish a foundation to promote the application of inventions by Hungarian citizens. In recent years, the puzzle author has been developing video games and writing articles on architecture.