Have you got a Rubik’s Cube? In 1981, answering this question with anything other than an affirmative would have designated you as eternally uncool. Had you, however, revealed that not only did you possess a Cube, you were also able to solve it, then your status as a demigod was assured.
And you might also have made yourself a lot of money. Because at one point during 1981, three of the top ten bestselling books in America were titles showing how to to solve Rubik’s Cube.
That’s a lot of books—but then, there were a lot of Cubes. Boasting (and genuinely possessing) 43 quintillion combinations, the 3D Puzzle had been conjured up by Ernő Rubik, Professor of architecture at the Budapest College of Applied Arts in 1974.
It wasn’t until 1980 that the Cube craze hit—but it hit big.
To date, 350 million Cubes have been sold—200 million between 1980 and 1983 alone. The Cube is, in fact, the world’s best selling toy—though Rubik’s patent expired in 2000, so its not altogether too late to cash in.
And yes, many have tried to do just that—post-patent Cube manufacturers abound.
The world record for solving the original Cube is 3.47 seconds.
But for those of you who found the 3×3 Cube a tad easy—and the official 4×4 and 5×5 Cubes that followed it—perhaps you would like to grapple with the 17×17×17 cube made by Chinese manufacturer YuXin.
Rubik, himself, quite understandably, made the most of his invention’s moment. For example, there was the—er—cartoon show. Rubik, the Amazing Cube ran for 30-minutes each Saturday morning on ABC from September to December 1983.
The premise? Some kids find a living Rubik’s Cube (called Rubik) which magically helps them deal with the problems of being teenagers. So long as it remained unscrambled.
Don’t mock—the show was re-run in 1985.