Rubik’ s Cube: The Most Popular Toy of All Time


Unless you are a cubaholic, solving a Rubik’s Cube in twenty moves or less probably seems like a pretty daunting task. Wait – make that solving a Rubik’s Cube in any number of moves. While many people still have trouble solving even just one side of the cube, experts have finally agreed that twenty is the magic number of moves that it takes to complete the puzzle. Any Rubik’s Cube, no matter how it is mixed up, can be solved in less than twenty moves! Kind of makes you want to pull yours out and give it another shot, doesn’t it?

Not many toys have as exciting an invention and development as the Rubik’s Cube. Created in 1974 by Ernő Rubik of Budapest, Hungary, the puzzle was originally named the Magic Cube. The design was almost the exact same as it is today, but its uses were very different. Today we mainly think of the Rubik’s Cube as a fun puzzle toy, but it was originally created to be used as a teaching tool to help architecture students understand and visualize 3D objects.

The biggest challenge that Rubik faced when creating his cube was figuring out a way to keep the separate pieces connected while also allowing them to rotate. He tried a variety of different methods, but it wasn’t until a relaxing walk along the River Darube that he finally had a burst of inspiration. He noticed that the pebbles alongside the river had edges that had been smoothed away on the inside. When he got back home he created inner workings similar in shape to these pebbles and, lo and behold, the cube stayed together and the pieces rotated! He had solved his problem and unknowingly created a truly marvelous toy.

Since the worldwide release of the Rubik’s Cube in 1980, people from all walks of life have become infatuated with the puzzle toy. In addition to solving the cube normally, many people have taken to solving the cube as fast as they can. The world record time for solving a Rubik’s Cube is 5.66 seconds by Feliks Zemdegs in 2011. This is hard to believe if you’re one of the thousands of peoples who have been trying to solve the cube for years without success. Other popular challenges at Rubik’s Cube contests include solving the cube with one hand, with only the feet, while blindfolded, and underwater.

In 1995 someone wanted to have the world’s fanciest Rubik’s Cube. Diamond Cutters International took up this challenge and created a cube that is valued at over 1.5 million dollars! They built the cube out of 22.5 carats of amethyst, 34 carats of rubies, 34 carats of emeralds, and set them all in 18-carat gold. Even more amazing is that the cube is actual size and fully functional! Imagine solving that million dollar puzzle.

Mathematical equations are an important part of Rubik’s Cube lore and several algorithms have been created to aid in the process of solving the puzzle. Many of these algorithms are so complex that they are difficult for the average person to understand. Tomas Rokicki, Herbet Kociemba, Morley Davidson, and John Dethridge are only a few of the most popular names in Rubik’s Cube research. These are the guys who have proven the puzzle can be solved in twenty steps or less.

Rubik's Cube scrambled

Image via Wikipedia

The Rubik’s Cube has sold over 350 million times since it was first released. This makes it the most popular toy of all time. If you haven’t picked up this amazing toy in years, you owe it to yourself to give it another shot. If it doesn’t work out after twenty moves, don’t worry too much, you’re definitely not alone there.

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