How Challenging Is It to Solve a Rubik’s Cube?

It took Ernő Rubik, creator of the Rubik’s Cube, a month to figure out how to solve the puzzle he had invented.
It took Ernő Rubik, creator of the Rubik’s Cube, a month to figure out how to solve the puzzle he had invented.

In 2018, "speedcuber" Yusheng Du solved the Rubik's Cube in a record 3.47 seconds. That jaw-dropping pace was nearly a month faster than the cube's inventor, Ernő Rubik, who initially didn't know how to solve the puzzle he had created. And if you think that's slow, consider how long it took for a toy manufacturer to decide to start making what would become an enormous hit.

In 1974, 29-year-old Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik came up with the idea for a block of twisting cubes that could be both fluid and stable at the same time. He added some colored stickers to the cubes and messed around with it, only to come to the conclusion that he didn't know how to get it back to its beginnings.

Rubik needed a month to eventually figure it out, but he knew he was onto something special. Still, it took Rubik several years to get a Hungarian plastic toy company to make 5,000 of what were then called "Magic Cubes." Sales came quickly, but it wasn't until Rubik got the U.S. toy company Ideal Toy interested that what became known as the Rubik's Cube hit its stride. Today, the little block of colored cubes has become one of the best-selling toys in history, with more than 450 million units sold.

Cube curiosities:

  • There are 43 quintillion (43,000,000,000,000,000,000) possible configurations for a Rubik's Cube.

  • In 1983, ABC aired 13 episodes of an animated show called Rubik, the Amazing Cube.

  • Some people memorize the placement of the colored cubes and solve the puzzle blindfolded.

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    • It took Ernő Rubik, creator of the Rubik’s Cube, a month to figure out how to solve the puzzle he had invented.
      It took Ernő Rubik, creator of the Rubik’s Cube, a month to figure out how to solve the puzzle he had invented.