I visited Bela Szalai on Saturday; his country home near Manassas battlefield
("Bull Run") is LGI, and he and his family are the employees. I learned a few
--he saw the cube in 1978 Aug, during a trip to visit relatives in Hungary;
after many delays was able to get some wholesale from the Hungarian gov't., but
they wanted $1 million for exclusive rights to distribute the things in the
Western world. Ideal may have learned of the cube from Bernie DeKovon,
GAMES magazine editor who is also a toy consultant for them; Ideal paid the
$10^6 in 1979 Sep.
--the cube is not patentable in the USA bnecause it was sold publicly for
over a year in Hungary before patents were applied for; in England, however,
it is "copyrighted" (equivalent to US patent+trademark) and Ideal has a legal
--Ideal will run nationwide TV advertisements for the cube beginning in a month
or so; something to do with Newton, and including an animated cube which solves
--Bela took out a second mortgage on his home to pay for the plastic molds for
his cube parts. He uses white plastic so that it will be possible to print the
colors on ("pad printing", the same process whereby labels are put on some
shampoo bottles). If all goes well, LGI will start making printed-color cubes
within a month.
--Bela ordered 300 copies of the 4th edition of Singmaster's booklet in 1980 Jun;
Singmaster informed him in July that the 4th edition was out of print, but that
he could have 300 of the 5th edition for the same price as soon as they come
out. LGI has >90 orders already pending, and while the remaining <210
copies of the 5th edition last, Bela is willing to sell them for $4 each...
whenever they arrive.
--LGI wholesale prices start at orders for 12 cubes, $6 each plus shipping;
individuals may want to consolidate their orders to save money.
--Rubik developed the cube partly as an aid to teaching 3-dimensional
visualization in students.
--cube manufacturing is VERY labor-intensive:
4 minutes to tap in and glue the caps to cover the internal 6th face of edge
and corner cubes for the 20 pieces necessary to make one 3x3x3
1 minute to assemble with screws and springs 5 out of six swivels (central
cube faces) onto the middle cross
1 minute to assemble the pieces and screw in the last central face
4 minutes to perform final adjustment: silicone grease, torque up all screws
evenly, rotate every which way to test each cube out, tap in and glue
6 central face caps over screws.
6 minutes to apply the color squares to the faces
Bela can read while performing most of the final assembly, now that his hands have
had several thousand cubes' practice. The color application step will be
eliminated if/when they begin to use pad printing for face coloring.
--about 4% of cubes are rejected for mechanical reasons, so far
--could work without gluing in internal faces of sub-cubes, but then about 1 cube
in 20 would fail...so, they don't
--READERS' DIGEST phoned to confirm some data, presumably for a story someday....