Way back when, Wednesdays

Holiday fun with ‘Cubing’

Before the current system of having four terms during the school year was implemented, the long summer holiday break used to extend into February.   On Wednesday 3 February, 1982, the Leader Messenger pictured 9 year old Jarrod Young attempting to solve the Rubik cube puzzle, when he attended a school holiday program held at Tea Tree Plaza. This would have been a very popular event.


Anybody born into Generation X will remember the Rubik’s Cube! You just had to have one.  The objective of the Rubik’s Cube puzzle is to rotate the 26 brightly coloured smaller cubes that make up the larger structure, so that each face of the cube features a different uniform solid colour. Amazingly, there are more than three billion possible combinations to the puzzle.

Architect Ernő Rubik invented his Magic Cube in 1974 in communist Hungary. It was designed as an innovative way to teach his students at the Budapest Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts about 3D objects. Their positive reaction to his creation inspired Rubik to take out a patent.  In conjunction with a state-run company, Rubik began marketing the cube as a puzzle in Europe in 1977. When American company Ideal Toys negotiated with Rubik to produce and market the puzzle, it sold over 4 million cubes in 1980. Cheaper unlicenced copies such as the Wonderful Puzzler also appeared on the market. The Rubik’s Cube became a worldwide obsession and global cultural icon and made Professor Rubik a millionaire at age 36.  He also created spinoff puzzles from his original design such as Rubik’s Race and Rubik’s Revenge. The first international world championship was held in Budapest in 1982.


The New York Times reported that by June, 1981, the Ideal Toy Company had sold 30 million cubes, accounting for about 25 percent of their sales, which earned $216.8 million for the company. However, by 30 October 1982, sales of the Rubik’s Cube were in decline. New electronic video games were top sellers, as well as the Smurfs and merchandise associated with the movie E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial.   (Rubik’s Cube: A craze ends http://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/30/business/rubik-s-cube-a-craze-ends.html).