Stocking stuffer: The Cube is back

30

November

Rubikcube There's nothing puzzling about the appeal of this 80s icon. The Rubik's Cube was an icon of the decade -- what the Pet Rock was to the 70s or the Chia Pet was to ... oh, hell, nobody wants to claim that as their icon.

Difficult to solve but even more difficult to give up on, the Rubik's Cube was invented by Erno Rubik in Hungary in 1974 but didn't reach the U.S. until 1980. More than 100-million of the puzzles were sold between 1980 and 1982. 

You might be surprised to know the Rubik's Cube phenomenon is still going strong. Today, Hasbro, which acquired the puzzle's U.S. rights in 2002, sells several hundred thousand of them each year, according to the company.

Willsmith The Cube could see another surge in popularity with the December release of the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness. The movie is based on the rags-to-riches story of Chicago millionaire Chris Gardner (played by Smith). The Rubik’s Cube plays a role in the movie as a way to showcase the resolve and skill of Smith, who's able to solve the puzzle quickly. (The Fresh Prince recently appeared on Oprah to promote the movie and solved the puzzle fast in front of the audience.)

Of course, learning the solve the puzzle quickly is the real challenge. Cube champion Tyson Mao was brought to the movie set to train Will Smith.

Some more Cube trivia:

  • Sheets of colored stickers were once sold to enthusiastic but frustrated puzzle owners who couldn't solve the puzzle. They could simply replace the stickers to make it look solved.
  • A standard cube has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible positions.
  • All cubes can be solved in 27 or fewer moves.

Tomorrow on Stuck in the 80s: An interview with Rubik's Cube champ Tyson Mao and his tips on how to solve the puzzle.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:20pm]

    

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