A Timeline of the Rubik's Cube
1970: Invention of the 2x2x2
Larry D. Nichols invented a 2×2×2 “Puzzle with Pieces Rotatable in Groups” and filed a Canadian patent application in the year 1970. Nichols’s used magnets as a mechanism to hold the parts together. Nichols received his patent on 11 April 1972, two years before Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube.
1974: The final prototype
Erno Rubik received a patent for his invention, dubbed the “Magic Cube”.
1977: First release
The cube finally made it out to Budapest toy shops in 1977. This version was durable and could not be easily broken.
1980: Worldwide introduction
The “Iron curtain” that separated the Soviet Union from the rest of the world created a hurdle for worldwide distribution. In 1979 a worldwide distribution deal was finally signed with Ideal Toys.
1981: An international hit
Sales started a bit slow, however, Ideal ran a television advertising campaign in the mid-1980s. By the end of 1980, the Rubik’s Cube won a slew of awards including the German Game of the Year special award and the UK Toy of the Year award. Over 100 million units were sold by the end of 1981. Today that number has tripled, making it one of the best-selling toys of all time.
Patrick Bossert published his guidebook to solving the cube “You Can Do The Cube” in 1981, selling 1.5 million copies.
1982: The first Rubik’s Cube World Championship
The first Rubik’s Cube World Championship has held in 1982 in Budapest with 20 competitors from around the world. Minh Thai, an American teenager, won with his 22.95 times. He then published a book with his solving method called “The Winning Solution”.
The original hype of the masses that surrounded the cube for its first few years dimmed over the rest of the ’80s and ’90s.
1997: The Fridrich Method
Jessica Fridrich published her method for speedsolving the cube, otherwise known as CFOP. Today this is still the most popular method for speedcubers. The world record and average times are consistently held by cubers using the CFOP method.
2003: The World Cube Association
In 2003 speedcubing was picking up as a popular sport. Ron Van Bruchem and Tyson Mao established the World Cube Association and organized the second World Championships. The WCA became the first official organization to standardize and monitor competitions and achievements. Today all official competitions and world records must be set under WCA rules and regulations.
2005: 25 years old
A special edition cube was sold to celebrate its 25th birthday. The third World Championships took place in 2005. Jeans Pons won with 15.10 seconds.
2014: Google and museum exhibitions
Google released a Rubik’s Cube doodle to celebrate 40 years since its invention. The Liberty Science Centre in New Jersey opened an exhibition that year displaying everything cube-related. This exhibition included everything from the original wood prototypes to robots that solved the puzzle.
2018: First smartcube
The first smartcubes, the Giiker, the Gan 365i, and the GoCube were first introduced to the market in 2018. This easy access to learning to solve the cube created a resurgence in appeal as a STEM toy.
2020: First online World Cup
The World Championships and European Championships have been held every 2 years ( taking place on alternating years), along with the yearly US Nationals. These events create friendships and communities between the cubers worldwide.
Due to travel suspension in 2020 the qualifiers and the competition took place virtually. Thanks to innovative smart connected cubes that track the users’ solves in real-time, the competitors entered the tournament from wherever they were worldwide. In order to qualify for the competition in 2020, there were digital qualifiers using the Rubik’s Connected. There were 4 digital Qualifiers starting in August through September. Participants submitted 5 daily solves to rank up in the Redbull Rubik’s Cube event leaderboard, supported via the digital apps (GoCube & Rubik’s connected). The Top 16 players were invited to online one-on-one tournaments to determine the top 3 players of the tournament who were then invited to participate in the World Finals on November 7th.
The competition was split into four categories- speedcubing mixed, speedcubing female, fastest hand, and rescramble. The winners of each category were Max Park, Juliette Sebastien, Philipp Weyer, and Chris Mills. Watch reruns of the 2020 finals here