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    Rubik’s Cube was the child’s-play toy of the ‘80s

    Remember Rubik’s Cube, the puzzle with so many twists and turns that it seemed maddingly impossible to solve?

    I remember how people would wrack their brains trying to get the colors to line up – their attention and fingers drawn acutely to the cube in much the same way as they are to smartphones today.

    I don’t recall ever working so hard to solve the puzzle – I guess I’ve never been much of a puzzle person – but I’m sure there weren’t many like me. I may have messed with it a few times, but I didn’t hang in there long enough to make a dent.

    A Rubik's Cube from a box at auction.

    A Rubik’s Cube from a box at auction.

    At auction recently, I came across a Rubik’s Cube among a box of disparate items. Even now it didn’t will me to try again, but it brought back memories of our fascination with the cube at its most popular during the 1980s.

    Rubik’s Cube had its beginnings in the 1970s. First called the Magic Cube, it was created in 1974 by a Budapest architecture professor named Erno Rubik, who presumably made it to teach his students the concept of three-dimension (other versions are that he made it for no one in particular). The puzzle was made of wood, paper clips and rubber bands, and it took Rubik more than a month to solve it.

    The cube became popular in Hungary, and found its global footing after appearing at toy fairs in New York, Paris, London and Nuremberg, Germany. Game designer/inventor Tom Kremer saw it in Germany, was awed by it and took it to the Ideal Toy Company. The name was changed from Magic Cube to Rubik’s Cube in 1980. and the puzzle went international, with about 100 million sold within two years. It was named Toy of the Year in 1980 and 1981 even though more adults than children seemed to be “playing” with it.

    Rubik's Cube was solved with a series of twists and turns.

    Rubik’s Cube was solved with a series of twists and turns.

    Since 1980, about 400 million have been sold – and they are still being sold. The puzzle was so popular that diehard enthusiasts wanted to speed it up the solution. Then came speedcubing contests, championships and record-holders.

    Rubik’s Cube celebrated its 40th birthday in 2014, and even Google celebrated it with a doodle (which it does for special events). It was inducted in the National Toy Hall of Fame that year.

    These days, it seems, solving the puzzle requires very little brainwork. There are several sites with instructions on how to do it – some simple, some not so simple. The key is to find one that makes it easy, painless and quick to solve. Good luck!


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