Rubik's Cube still puzzles after 40 years

By admin
19 May 2014

A childhood favourite, the Rubik’s Cube, is still a must-have toy for kids today. In celebration of its 40th anniversary on Monday (19 May) we take a look at its history . . . and future.

A childhood favourite, the Rubik’s Cube, is still a must-have toy for kids today. In celebration of its 40th anniversary on Monday (19 May) we take a look at its history . . . and future.

Where it all started

The Rubik’s Cube is a 3D combination puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Erno Rubik. In a classic Rubik’s Cube each of the six sides is covered by nine stickers in one of six colours – white, red, blue, orange, green or yellow. An internal pivot mechanism enables each face to turn independently, thus mixing up the colours. For the puzzle to be solved, each face must be returned to consisting of only one colour.

Why should your kids play with this toy?

Learning problem-solving skills during early childhood development is crucial and playing with a Rubik’s Cube can improve a child’s thought process in this regard as well lengthen their attention span. The toy can also help improve your child’s finger dexterity and hand-brain coordination. Furthermore, it can improve memory because you need to memorise a series of formulas in order to restore the cube to its original state. This linear memory will also eventually become muscle memory.

The Rubik’s Cube can also develop focus, improve visual perception and improve the skills necessary for a career in computer science, engineering or architecture.

Fun facts about the cube

  • Rubik originally called his toy the Magic Cube, but it was renamed by the Ideal Toy Company in 1980 following an international patenting hiccup.
  • It’s widely considered to be the world's bestselling toy. In January 2009, 350 million cubes had been sold worldwide, making it the world’s top-selling puzzle game.
  • A normal cube has 21 pieces. It consists of one core, eight corners and 12 edges, and a total of 54 stickers.
  • Rubik’s Cubes as small as 2x2x2 and as large as 5x5x5 were created for those looking for more of a challenge.
  • It was an accidental invention. Erno Rubik was working on a model that would help him explain three-dimensional geometry, when he ended up creating a famous cubical form comprising different colours. It took him more than a month to solve his own creation. In fact, he wasn’t even sure if there was a method to solve it.
  • The Rubik’s Cube has been solved in less than six seconds. The first official world record for solving the cube was 22,95 seconds by Vietnamese-American Minh Thai (then age 16). The current single-solve record is 5,55 seconds by Mats Valk (18) of the Netherlands.
  • People obsessed with the toy are often referred to as Cubaholics and many of them are said to suffer “Rubik’s wrist” and “Cubist’s thumb”.
  • The most expensive cube is called the Masterpiece Cube. It was made by Fred Cueller from Diamond Cutters International to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Rubik’s cube. It comprises 18-carat solid gold, encrusted with 22.5 c amethyst, 34 c rubies and 34 c green emerald. This Rubik’s Cube is worth more than $1 500 000 (R15,75 million).

Happy cubing!

In commemoration of the Rubik’s Cube’s 40th anniversary, Google dedicated its Google Doodle to it. Take a look at the online puzzle here.

-Janine Nel

Extra sources: yourubik.com, reuters.com, rubiks.com, wikihow.com, mathplayground.com

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