Most frogs, humans too, after a few hours trying to solve the Rubik's Cube become mesmerized by the toy. But they also realize that they're probably not going to solve it. Ever. I know that's what happened to me the first time I tried it! Erno Rubik created the toy in 1974 but it wasn't released to the world market until 1980 when it quickly became the latest fad. Rubik was born in 1944 in Budapest, Hungary to parents who both were talented. His mother was an artist and poetess who later became a sculptor and architect. His father was an engineer who designed gliders. It's little wonder that Rubik had a creative and curious mind.
So how, exactly, did the creative Rubik come up with the idea for his cube? He was fascinated with the concept of space and spent his free time designing puzzles that would open his students' minds to new ways of thinking about three-dimensional geometry. At the time, Rubik was employed as a professor at the Academy of Applied Arts and Design in Budapest. In spring of 1974, just shy of his 30th birthday, Mr. Rubik had the idea for a small cube with each side constructed of movable squares. By fall of that year, his friends had helped him create the first wooden prototype of his idea. Rubik was fascinated just by watching the squares moved when he turned one section, then another. But then something amazing happened! He couldn't get the colored squares to line up again. He became nearly-obsessed and spent a month turning the cube this way and that, trying to realign the colors. He finally succeeded and then asked others to try the cube. Everyone who played with the cube had the same "fascinating reaction" to it, as he had. He realized that he had what might be a great money-making idea for a toy puzzle.
In 1975 Rubik made an agreement with a Hungarian toy-manufacturer who began mass-producing the puzzle. These early toys were called the Magic Cube. But while they were a huge success in then-communist Hungary, Rubik ran into difficulty trying to convince the government to allow him to sell them to the rest of the world. He finally won his argument and was allowed to begin selling his toy outside of Hungary. By 1979 the Ideal Toy Company had agreed to produce the toy but wanted to rename it. After giving it some thought, they settled on Rubik's Cube. The first Rubik's Cubes appeared in western stores in 1980. It became an instant sensation. By 1982, over 100 million of these puzzles had been sold and most had not yet been solved.
Millions of people who had purchased the puzzles were stumped, frustrated, but yet still obsessed with solving it. "With more than 43 quintillion possible configurations (43,252,003,274,489,856,000 to be exact), hearing that "the stationary pieces are the starting point for the solution" or "solve one side at a time" just was not enough information for the layman to solve the Rubik's Cube." So in response to the ever-increasing demand for the solution to the puzzle, several dozen books were published in the early 1980's, each one claiming to teach its reader how to solve the Rubik's Cube. Some Cube owners went so far as to smash open their toy, hoping to find some "inner secret" that help them solve the puzzle. Other owners were setting speed records for solving it. As of 2015, the current world-record for solving the Rubik's Cube is 5.25 seconds... record held by Collin Burns of the United States. To date, over 300 million Cubes have been sold, making it one of the most popular toys of the 20th century.
It should come as no surprise that here in Lily Pad, the toy is marketed under the name of Ribbik's Cube and all the colors are green...various shades, of course! I'm excited to attend the Lily Pad championship and cheer on my favorite players. It'll be a fun day spent with my family. I'm quite sure that by Saturday evening, little brother Quigley will be begging our parents for his very own Ribbik's Cube.
What ever plans you have this weekend. Have fun and stay safe. I invite you all back here again on Monday.