"Rubikmania: Lots Of New Twists"
Newsweek, 19 April 1982, pp. 16f
It has been hurled out of moving buses, dumped into trash mashers and
pounded to bits with blunt instruments. With more than 43 quintillion
possible arrangements, Rubik's Cube puzzle may be the most infuriating
plaything ever marketed, as well as one of the most popular. Seven
years after Hungarian architecture Prof. Erno Rubik constructed the
first cube to help his students understand three-dimensional objects,
world sales have passed the 30 million mark. "It's phenomenal," says a
vice president for the Ideal Toy Corp., which makes the plastic cube
under an agreement with a Hungarian manufacturing company. "Every month
we pinch ourselves and say it won't last, but the cube is still selling
like nothing else."
Ideal has capitalized on the cube's success with a number of
spin-offs. There's Rubik's Revenge, which has sixteen tiles on a side,
instead of nine; Rubik's Pocket Cube, a simpler version intended for
children; Rubik's World, a globe made of 26 sections that twist apart;
Rubik's Game, a three-dimensional pegboard, and Rubik's Race, a
two-player game in which the multicolored tiles must duplicate various
patterns. True masochists might also want to try something called the
Calendar Cube---which requires twiddling the tiles every day to form the
Rubikmania has also spread to the publishing industry. Ideal's
solution booklet and another one written by a 13-year-old London
schoolboy ("You Can Do the Cube") are both big sellers. "The Simple
Solution to Rubik's Cube," which runs to 64 pages, has sold 7 million
copies; it is the fastest-selling title in the history of Bantam Books.
There are even books for people who are fed up with the craze. Among
them: "Not Another Cube Book," "You Can Kick the Cube" and "101 Uses for
a Dead Cube."
Rubik receives about 5 percent of the puzzle profits, making him
perhaps the only self-made millionaire in Hungary. "With the money I
earn, I can afford to buy myself a new Fiat every two days," he jokes.
"A little Fiat." He has taken a leave of absence from his teaching post
to help Ideal organize a world cube-twisting championship in Budapest
this spring. To qualify for the contest, you must be able to solve the
puzzle in less than one minute---which eliminates Rubik himself. It
takes him at least twice that long.