Born: 13 July 1944
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Best known as: Inventor of the Rubik's Cube puzzle
Erno Rubik was teaching interior design and architecture in Budapest when he created what is now known as the Rubik's Cube, a three-dimensional puzzle that became a worldwide sensation in the early 1980s. Rubik studied architecture and design at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in the late 1960s. He took a job as an instructor there, and in his off-hours he built models and worked on three-dimensional designs. The first working prototype of his cube was finished in 1974, and he applied for a patent on the design in early 1975. The puzzle is a cube made up of smaller, colored interlocking cubes (3 x 3 x 3) that can be manipulated by twisting the horizontal and vertical planes. In it's "pure" form, the cube's six faces -- made up of nine squares -- are colored yellow, white, orange, blue, red and green. Once the cube has been manipulated, getting the parts arranged back to the pure form is not so easy. According to lore, it took Rubik a month to solve his own puzzle. By 1977 his "magic cube" was being manufactured in Hungary, and its first burst of popularity was in Europe, despite the lack of a marketing or advertising campaign. By 1980 it had been introduced to the United States and the rest of the world and dubbed "Rubik's Cube." The toy sold by the millions and attracted the attention of mathematicians and others in the academic community; it also became a competive event in 1982, when Budapest hosted the first world championship (Vietnam's Minh Thai won, solving the puzzle in under 23 seconds). Although the "craze" lasted only a few years, the Rubik's Cube is now a toy store standard and has spawned dozens of imitations and spin-offs. Rubik became one of Hungary's richest entrepreneurs and went on to develop more games and puzzles, including Rubik's Revenge (a 4 x 4 x 4 cube) and Rubik's Snake.
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