History of cubing

A History of cubing which includes Rubik's Cube and other related puzzles. Rubik's Cube was invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik, a Hungarian designer and architect living and working in Budapest. Initially known as the "Magic Cube", production began in Hungary in late 1977 and small numbers of Cubes were reaching the hands of mathematicians in the West in 1978. In 1979 a major US toy company, Ideal, signed a licensing agreement and launched Rubik's Cube into international markets in 1980. It quickly became a huge craze, peaking in 1981, and only ending in late 1982. Numerous other puzzles appeared in its wake, including the 4×4×4 Rubik's Revenge, and Uwe Mèffert's Pyraminx. For a couple of years the Cube craze also spawned the sport of speedcubing, which included a World Championship in 1982. Interest in Rubik's Cube fell in 1983 and sales crashed everywhere. Rubik's Cubes began trickling back into the shops in the 1990s, and this created a second generation of speedcubers from around 1999 onwards. A second World Championship was held in 2003 and has been repeated every two years since. From 2007 Chinese versions of Rubik's Cube have seen improvements on the basic design, a process which has accelerated from 2011 onwards giving the world speedcubes which are engineered for speed.

Precursors

Rubik's 1974 invention was preceded by vaguely similar puzzle ideas. The most important of these was Uwe Mèffert's experiments with polyhedra puzzles which would eventually launch him into a new career as a puzzle designer and seller once the Rubik Cube craze began. Larry Nichols' patent, on the other hand, would result in a failed lawsuit against Rubik's Cube which would take most of the 1980s to play out.

  • 1963 Mar 12: William O. Gustafson receives US patent 3,081,089 for a 2×2×2 spherical toy. It had an interior sphere with grooves and the pieces had lips. The patent eventually lapses.
  • early 1970s: Uwe Mèffert experiments with slicing polyhedra into symmetric slices and attaching them with rubber bands to a center ball. His wooden puzzles end up in a drawer until 1981 when he releases the Pyraminx.(1)
  • 1972 Apr 11: Larry Nichols receives US patent 3,655,201 for his 2×2×2 rotatable cube. Nichols's cube was held together with magnets which could be easily pulled apart.
  • 1974 Jan 16: Frank Fox receives UK patent 1,344,259 for a 3×3×3 sphere with tongue and grooves holding the pieces together, with a hollow center. He lets his patent lapse.(2)

1974-77: From invention to production

The story of the invention of Rubik's Cube begins in Hungary in 1974. In the 1970s Hungary (capital: Budapest) was part of the Communist block of Eastern Europe, albeit with something of a market-orientated economy. This would eventually cause production problems for Rubik's Cube, but it also explains why it was difficult in the late 1970s for the Cube to reach (capitalist) Western Europe. The basic story of how Ernő Rubik invented the Rubik's Cube is as follows:

When he was 29 years old in early 1974, Ernő Rubik was teaching 3D design at the Academy of Applied Arts in Budapest. He was interested in shapes and liked to play with various cardboard and wooden figures. Around March/April 1974, he was pondering the ways in which the cube can be cut and divided, and became interested in the structural problem of whether the blocks could move independently without falling apart. He made a 2×2×2 cube which consisted of eight wooden cubes with holes drilled diagonally through them and joined together with rubber bands. Though the rubber bands soon broke, they lasted long enough to show that the cube made an interesting puzzle. Over the next six weeks he developed the mechanism for the 3×3×3 Cube. Upon scrambling the Cube he was afraid that it might be unsolvable except by precisely undoing all the previous moves, which would make it an impossible and uninteresting puzzle. It took him over a month of hard effort to solve the Cube. He started out by aligning the eight corner cubes correctly, and then discovered various sequences of moves for rearranging just a few cubes at a time.(3)(4)

The next important dates are as follows:

  • 1975 Jan 30: Rubik applies for a Hungarian patent on his Cube.(5)
  • 1975 March: Rubik approaches Politechnika Ipari Szövetkezet, a cooperative which manufactures plastic chess sets and similar games.(5)
  • 1976 Oct 12: Terutoshi Ishigi, an ironworks owner, applies for Japanese patent 55-8192 having independently invented a 3×3×3 cube held together by a similar mechanism to Rubik's.
  • 1977 Mar 28: Ernő Rubik receives Hungarian Patent HU00170062.(6)
  • late 1977: Politechnika supplies Trial (the major toy distributor in Hungary) an initial order of 5000 cubes. They are sold under the name "Bűvös Kocka" ("Magic Cube").(5)

1978-79: The Cube gains a following

In 1978 and 1979, the "Magic Cube" is still largely unknown outside of Hungary. Small numbers of Cubes begin to trickle out into Western countries. By 1979 the Cube has become a mini-craze among mathematicians.

  • 1978 August: The Cube wins a prize at the Budapest International Toy Fair.(5)
  • 1978 August: The International Congress of Mathematicians in Helsinki. Several mathematicians at the conference including John Conway and Roger Penrose have acquired a Cube. David Singmaster gets one of the last samples available from Hungarian mathematician Tamás Varga. It takes Singmaster about two weeks to develop a general solution.(7)
  • 1978: Don Taylor, a mathematician from the University of Sydney, acquires a Cube while on study-leave in Holland. His written analysis is photocopied and circulated among mathematicians. He eventually writes the 2nd-best-selling Rubik's Cube book of 1981.(8)
  • 1978 November: Tibor Laczi, a Hungarian businessman living in Austria, sees a Rubik's Cube in a small cafe while driving to Budapest. The next day Laczi visits the Hungarian state trading company, Konsumex, and asks for permission to promote the Cube abroad.(4)
  • 1978 December: Singmaster devises his notation for recording moves. By February 1979 he has written in manuscript form the first version of his "Notes on the 'Magic Cube'".(7)
  • 1979 February: Tibor Laczi takes the Cube to Germany's Nuremberg Toy Fair, where on the final day, it is noticed by Tom Kremer the founder of the UK-based Seven Towns toy company.(9)
  • 1979 March: Singmaster writes a news article in the The Mathematical Intelligencer predicting that the Cube "may well surpass the popularity" of Sam Lloyd's Fifteen Puzzle craze of 1880.(10)
  • 1979 June 17: Singmaster writes an article about the "Six-sided magic" in the UK Sunday newspaper The Observer.(11)
  • 1979 September: Tom Kremer arranges a worldwide deal for a million Cubes with Ideal Toys.(9)
  • 1979 October: Singmaster self-publishes the first edition of his "Notes on the 'Magic Cube'".(7)

1980: From cult to craze

In 1980 Rubik's Cube is launched upon the world. However events are quiet for the first six months as the Hungarian suppliers ("Politoys") gear-up for production. Sales begin to surge towards the end of the year, and by Christmas the Cube craze is fully underway.

  • 1980 January 4: Viktor T. Toth wins a pioneering Cube contest in Hungary with a time of 55 seconds.(12)
  • 1980 January: Ideal unveil Rubik's Cube at the International Toy Fair of London, followed by appearances at the toy fairs of Paris, Nuremberg and New York. Ernő Rubik travels outside Communist eastern Europe for the first time.
  • 1980 January-to-May: The Hungarian manufacturers retool their production lines creating a lighter Cube.(5)
  • 1980 May 5: Ideal begins promotion of the cube in the USA with a party given by Zsa-Zsa Gabor in Hollywood. This is followed by a New York party on May 8 with three generations of Gabors.(5)
  • 1980 July: Ideal begins two weeks of US television advertising using 30-second commercials followed by four weeks of 10-second commercials.(13)
  • 1980 July 12: The MIT Cube Lovers e-mail list starts up.(14)
  • 1980 August: David Singmaster publishes the expanded 5th edition of his book retitled as "Notes on Rubik's 'Magic Cube'". The book contains a layer-by-layer solution in a separate pull-out section.(7)
  • 1980 September: Omni magazine publishes an article on the "remarkable new mathematical toy" in the Games column.(15)
  • 1980 September: After a short hiatus Ideal continues with its advertising campaign.(13)
  • 1980 December 2/3: Ideal publishes a "warning notice" in Australian newspapers stating that it will "vigorously" defend its Rubik's Cube copyright against imitations.(16)(17)
  • 1980 December: James G. Nourse buys a Rubik's Cube and spends the holidays working out a solution. His solution will become the best-selling book of 1981.(18)

1981: The year of Cube-mania

The year 1981 is the peak year of Rubik's Cube mania, and it becomes a craze across much of the world. Because there is no international patent on the Cube, a huge range of (often inferior) imitations produced in the Far-East (especially Taiwan) flood the market in its wake. An entire publishing industry of solution books also begins in June. Other puzzles start to appear, the most sucessful of which is Rubik's Snake.(19) Uwe Mèffert releases his Pyraminx, and Ideal introduces two notable shape variations of their cube: the "Magic Ball" (or Rubik's Sphere) and the "Magic Octagonal Prism" (or Octagonal Barrel).(5)

  • 1981 January 24: The Cube craze begins in the UK after teenager Nicolas Hammond appears on BBC children's television ("Swap-Shop") and solves the Cube in 37 seconds.(5)
  • 1981 January 31: The Japan Cubist Club holds a speedcubing tournament at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. The winner is Hideki Kitajima with times of 62, 46, 49 seconds (average: 52.3 seconds).(5)
  • 1981 February 3: Péter Sebestény applies for German patent 3103583 for the 4×4×4 Rubik's Revenge.
  • 1981 February: Patrick Bossert, a 12-year-old from London, solves the Cube while on holiday in Switzerland. His photocopied solution is spotted by a publisher, and is reworked to become the 3rd-best-selling Cube book of 1981.(20)
  • 1981 March: Article on the Cube by Douglas Hofstadter in his Metamagical Themas column in Scientific American. A Rubik's Cube is depicted on the front cover.(21)
  • 1981 March 6-13: The Guiness Book of Records holds a speedcubing tournament in Munich at the Olympia Shopping Centre. The best times are 38 seconds achieved by Ronald Brinkmann and Jury Fröschl.(5)
  • 1981 March 23: TIME magazine reports on the "Hot-Selling Hungarian Horror".(22)
  • 1981 April 10: Ernő Rubik applies for German patent 3114693 for Rubik's Snake.
  • 1981 June 4: Uwe Mèffert applies for US Patent 264361 for the Pyraminx Star.
  • 1981 June 10: Uwe Mèffert applies for European patent 42,695 for the Pyraminx.(2)
  • 1981 July: Morwen Thistlethwaite devises his 52-move algorithm which allows any computer to the solve the Cube in a maximum of 52 moves.(23)
  • 1981 July: Both James G. Nourse's The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube and Don Taylor's Mastering Rubik's Cube reach the New York Times bestseller list.(24)
  • 1981 August 3: Ernő Rubik applies for US patent 4,378,116 for Rubik's Domino, and US patent 4,378,117 for the 2×2×2 Pocket Cube.
  • 1981 August: Launch of Rubik's Snake.(25)
  • 1981 September: A medical condition known as "Cubist's Thumb" is reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. Douglas Waugh, a Canadian doctor, acquired it as a result of holding the Cube too firmly with a corner pressing into the heel of the thumb.(26)
  • 1981 September 27: The Hungarian Rubik's Cube Championship is won by Zoltán Lábas with a time of 36.9 seconds.(27)
  • 1981 September 29: Udo Krell applies for German patent 3138663 (US4600199) for his puzzle mechanism. This will become the first mass-produced 5×5×5 cube, as well as the basis for other puzzles such as the Pyraminx Ultimate, Pyraminx Crystal.
  • 1981 October 4: The New York Times reports on the deluge of Rubik Cube duplicates flooding the market with names such as Magic Puzzler, Perfect Puzzler, Wonderful Puzzler, Challenge Puzzler, and Le Cube.(28)
  • 1981 October: Patrick Bossert's You Can Do the Cube reaches the New York Times bestseller list.(29)
  • 1981 October 29: The French Rubik's Cube Championship is won by Jérôme Jean-Charles with a time of 25.6 seconds.(5)
  • 1981 November: Issue 1 of David Singmaster's Cubic Circular.(5)
  • 1981 November 13: The US Rubik's Cube Championship is won by Minh Thai with a time of 26.04 seconds. Second place goes to Jeffrey Varasano with a time of 28.96 seconds. The tournament is recorded and broadcast on the TV show "That's Incredible" on December 7.(26)
  • 1981 December 12: The UK Rubik's Cube Championship is won by Julian Chilvers with a time of 25.79 seconds.(26)
  • 1981 December: Peak of Rubik's Cube sales.(30)

1982: The craze continues

In 1982 the cube is still selling but demand falls as the year goes on.(30) Ideal continues with its "Rubik's Range" of cube products: this includes the 4×4×4 Rubik's Revenge, and the 2×2×2 Pocket Cube.(27) Uwe Mèffert is also marketing new products such as the "Magic Dodecahedron" (Megaminx), and the "Pyraminx Cube" (invented by Tony Durham) which is renamed the Skewb after Douglas Hofstadter coins the word in his Scientific American column.(27) The most important event is the World Rubik's Cube Championship (June 5) in Budapest. It is the first such championship and the last until 2003.

  • 1982 January: Rubik's Cube wins the UK Toy of the Year award for the second year in a row.(26)
  • 1982 January: Yale University offers a 14-week undergraduate course on the Rubik's Cube.(31)
  • 1982 January: Cyril Ostrop's Solving the Cube reaches the New York Times bestseller list.(32)
  • 1982 February: Rubik Cube mania in China is reported to have caused a "Rubik Cube shortage" in Beijing.(33)
  • 1982 March: Issue 2 of David Singmaster's Cubic Circular.(26)
  • 1982 March 20: The Canadian Rubik's Cube Championship is won by Duc Trinh with a time of 26 seconds.(34)
  • 1982 March 29: Adam Alexander applies for US patent 4,506,891 for Alexander's Star.
  • 1982 April: The Beijing Evening News warns its readers they can become "mentally abnormal from playing the magic cube".(35)
  • 1982 April 23: CBS buys Ideal Toys for around $58 million.(36)
  • 1982 April 24: The Dutch Rubik's Cube Championship is won by Guus Razoux Schultz with a time of 29.34 seconds. Second place goes to Marc Waterman with a time of 30.41 seconds.(37)
  • 1982 May: The 4×4×4 Rubik's Revenge appears in US stores.(38)
  • 1982 May: Ideal publishes their first Rubik's Cube Newsletter.(39)
  • 1982 May 11: The Czechoslovakian Rubik's Cube Championship is won by Jiri (later Jessica) Fridrich with a time of 23.55 seconds in the final round.(27)
  • 1982 May 15: John White, a British mathematics student, solves a Cube completely behind his back in 136 seconds at a charity Cube contest thus achieving a "blindfolded" solve. His friend Duncan Dicks solves a Cube one-handed in 53 seconds at the same event.(27)
  • 1982 May: A giant Rubik's Cube is exhibited at the Hungarian Pavilion at the 1982 World's Fair Knoxville, Tennessee. After the fair, the cube is neglected but it gets restored and put on permanent display in Knoxville in 2007.(40b)
  • 1982 May: Moleculon Research Corporation, Larry Nichols' employer and owner of his 2×2×2 patent, launches a $60 million lawsuit against CBS, claiming that Rubik's Cube infringes on Nichols' 1972 patent.(41)
  • 1982 June 5: First World Rubik's Cube Championship is held in Budapest, Hungary. Contestants selected from 19 countries take part. Minh Thai from the USA wins with a best time of 22.95 after three attempts for each contestant. Guus Razoux Schultz is second (24.32 secs) and Zoltán Lábas is third (24.49 secs).(27)
  • 1982 June: Issue 3 & 4 of David Singmaster's Cubic Circular.(27)
  • 1982 August: Ideal publishes their second Rubik's Cube Newsletter.(39)
  • 1982 October 30: The New York Times reports that the Rubik's Cube craze has died.(30)
  • 1982 c. November: Issue 5 & 6 of David Singmaster's Cubic Circular.(42)
  • 1982 November 5: 2nd American Rubik's Cube Championships. David Allen wins the title, although Minh Thai wins the title of "grand champion" by beating him in a play-off. The tournament was broadcast on the TV show "That's Incredible" on January 24.(43)
  • 1982 December: Rubik Cubes become sporadically available in Russian stores leading to long queues in Moscow.(44)
  • 1982 December: An article by David Singmaster on the "Moral and Mathematical Lessons from a Rubik Cube" is published in the Christmas edition of New Scientist.(45)

1983: The hangover

In 1983 the craze is over. Sales have collapsed in most countries, and the Hungarian manufacturer, unaccustomed to dealing with consumer crazes, has effectively gone bankrupt.(4) The one significant puzzle of 1983 is the 5×5×5 Cube. The design of Udo Krell is manufactured by Mèffert in Hong Kong. Although it is later known as the "Professor's Cube", in 1983 it is marketed in Germany as "Rubik's Wahn" (which can be translated as "Rubik's Mania"), and it is also sold in Japan.(46) The few significant events of 1983 are:

  • 1983 January?: Ideal publishes their third ("Winter 1983") Rubik's Cube Newsletter.(39)
  • 1983 March: 2nd Czechoslovakian Rubik's Cube Championship. Robert Pergl wins all three rounds with a best time of 17.04 seconds. This is the fastest time in an official tournament until 2003.(45b)
  • 1983 June 25: Julian Chilvers wins a 4×4×4 Rubik's Revenge competition in the UK with a time of 119 seconds.(46) This effectively becomes the official record for the next 20 years.
  • 1983 August: Ideal publishes their fourth and last Rubik's Cube Newsletter.(39)
  • 1983 September 10: The first episode of Rubik, the Amazing Cube, a 13-part animated series, is broadcast on ABC television.(47)

1984-1995: The dark ages

For the next decade Rubik's Cube becomes "that frustrating artifact of the early 1980's [which] has been retired to the attic, the garbage heap".(19) Ernő Rubik, however, returns to the spotlight in late 1986 when Rubik's Magic is released. This creates media interest and significant sales for that puzzle. For the entire period the most important events are:

  • 1984 October: The Federal District Court in Delaware finds in favor of Moleculon, ruling that Rubik's Cube infringes on Nichols' patent.(48)
  • 1985 c. June: Issue 7 & 8 (final issue) of David Singmaster's Cubic Circular.(46)
  • 1986 January 22: Ernő Rubik files a worldwide patent (1986005703) for Rubik's Magic.
  • 1986 March 4: Rubik's Studio files a worldwide patent (1986005111) for an Electronic Rubik's Cube.
  • 1986 March: John Tierney's article on "The Perplexing Life of Erno Rubik" is published in Discover magazine.(4)
  • 1986 May: The U.S. Court of Appeals overturns the judgment on the 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube and 4×4×4 Rubik's Revenge, allowing that only the 2×2×2 Pocket Cube infringes upon Nichols' patent.(49)
  • 1986 August: Ernő Rubik announces the forthcoming release of Rubik's Magic.(19)
  • 1986 September: Rubik's Magic is launched at the Budapest Toy Fair.(50)
  • 1986 October: Matchbox Toys launches an international sales campaign for Rubik's Magic.(19)(50)
  • 1987: Oxford University Press publishes Rubik's Cubic Compendium: an English translation of the 1981 book Bűvös Kocka by Ernő Rubik, Tamás Varga, Gerzson Kéri, György Marx and Tamás Vekerdy, with an added chapter on the the Cube craze by David Singmaster.
  • 1987 October: Jearl Walker writes about Rubik's Magic in the Amateur Scientist column of Scientific American.(51)
  • 1988 April 29: Cecil Smith (b. 1929) opens his Cube Museum in Grand Junction, Colorado to display his collection of Cubes. (The museum operates until 1991).(52)
  • 1989 April: The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the 1986 judgment that the 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube and 4×4×4 Rubik's Revenge do not infringe Nichols' patent.(53)
  • 1991 August: The Square-1 puzzle appears in US stores.(54)
  • 1991 November 7: Karel Hrsel, Vojtech Kopsky apply for US patent 5,193,809 for the Square-1 puzzle.
  • 1992 August 28: Hank Chang applies for US patent 5,271,688 which allows Cubes to be assembled and disassembled.
  • 1995 October: OddzOn Products relaunches Rubik's Cube in the USA.(55)
  • 1995 December: Diamond Cutters International creates a million-dollar "Masterpiece Cube" to celebrate the "15th anniversary" of Rubik's Cube. The fully functional cube features amethysts, rubies, and emeralds, all set in 18-karat gold.(56)

1996-2006: Renaissance

As the World Wide Web reaches peoples' homes in the mid-1990s there is a slow revival of cubing interest. Established cubers of the 1980s (notably Fridrich and Petrus) put their advanced solving systems online. At the end of the 1990s a new generation of speedsolvers appears including Dan Knights, Matt Wilder, Chris Hardwick and Jess Bonde.(57) This leads to Dan Gosbee organising the 2nd World Rubik's Cube Championship in 2003, and the establishment of The World Cube Association by Ron van Bruchem and Tyson Mao in 2004.

  • 1996 January: Mark Longridge creates his Domain of the Cube website.(58)
  • 1997 c. January: Jessica Fridrich puts the CFOP speedsolving method online.
  • 1997 March: Lars Petrus puts his speedsolving method online.
  • 1997 December 23: Chen Sen Li applies for US patent 5,826,871 for the Eastsheen 2×2×2 cube. This is followed in March 1998 by patent application 5992850 for the Eastsheen 4×4×4 cube, and in May 1998 by patent application 6129356 for the Eastsheen 5×5×5 cube.
  • 1999 January: The CD-ROM game Rubik's Games is released.(57)
  • 1999 March: Dan Knights acquires his first cube, within a year he is achieving sub 20-second times, and is one of the world's fastest cubers.(59)
  • 1999 April 6: The three-dimensional shape of Rubik's Cube is granted to Seven Towns as a trademark in the European Union.(59b)
  • 1999 May: Release of the Darth Maul 2×2×2 Rubik's Cube.(60) A prototype R2D2 2×2×2 cube is made but doesn't see production until 2015.(61)
  • 1999 August: Release of the Homer and Bart Simpson 2×2×2 Rubik's Cubes.(62)
  • 1999 November: Dan Knights spends a week with Ernő Rubik on Rubik's publicity tour of the UK appearing on the news and several talk shows.(63)
  • 2000 June 19: Chris Hardwick creates the Yahoo! Speed Solving Rubik's Cube Group.(57) Around the same time he is also maintaining an "Unofficial World Records Page".(64)
  • 2000 July: Ron van Bruchem creates Speedcubing.com, a hub website for speedcubing.(65)
  • 2002 c. May: Announcement that the first World Rubik's Cube Championship in 21 years, organised by Dan Gosbee, will take place the following year.(66)
  • 2002 May: Dan Knights appears on the TV show That's Incredible: The Reunion.(63)
  • 2002 July: Creation of the TwistyPuzzles website (which incorporates the earlier Virtual Puzzle Museum).(67)
  • 2002 December 17: Jess Bonde solves 2,000 cubes in 22 hours and 16 minutes, setting a cube marathon world record.(65)
  • 2003 July: Ryan Heise publishes the first version of his intuitive fewest-moves method online.(68)
  • 2003 August: Gilles Roux publishes his new speedsolving method online.(69)
  • 2003 August 24: The 2nd World Rubik's Cube Championship, the first one since 1982, is held in Toronto, Canada. Dan Knights wins the 3×3 final, with an average time of 20.00 seconds for three cubes. Jessica Fridrich finishes second and David Wesley finishes third.(65) Jess Bonde sets a new world record time for a single 3×3 solve of 16.53 seconds.(40)
  • 2004 May 13: Panagiotis Verdes files a worldwide patent (2004103497) for a "Cubic logic toy" allowing the construction of cubes larger than 5×5×5 up to 11×11×11.
  • 2004 c. August: Ron van Bruchem and Tyson Mao found The World Cube Association (WCA), to regulate and hold competitions for Rubik's Cubes and similar puzzles around the world.(70)
  • 2004 September: Release of the DIY 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube kit.(65) Unlike store Cubes, the DIY cubes have adjustable tensions.
  • 2004 October 17: At the Caltech Winter competition, Shotaro Makisumi achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 15 seconds (14.76 secs).(40)
  • 2005 July: Release of a "25th Anniversary" limited edition Rubik's Cube.(71)
  • 2005 November 6: The 3rd World Rubik's Cube Championship is held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA. Jean Pons wins the 3×3 final with an average time of 15.10s. Edouard Chambon is second and Shotaro Makisumi is third.(65)
  • 2006 c. February: Patrick Kelly creates the Speedsolving Forums, a bulletin forum for speedcubing.
  • 2006 May: Frank Morris (world record holder for 4×4 and 5×5 at the time) tests Verdes' prototype 5×5×5 and 6×6×6 Cubes.(65) In October a video of Frank Morris testing Verdes' 7×7×7 cube is also released.
  • 2006 December: Zbigniew Zborowski publishes (in Polish) his "ZZ speedcubing method".(72)

2007-2010: The first speedcubes

The year 2007 sees the Shanghai-based website Cube4You selling Chinese-made cubes internationally, initially as DIY kits. Cube4You names the cubes arbitarily as Type A, Type B, etc. The first three types (A, B, C) become available in 2007,(73) and this is followed in 2008 by another three types (D, E, F).(74) It eventually becomes clear that these "Types" are made by 5 companies: Type A by GuoJia (GJ), Type B and Type F by ShengEn, Type C by GuoBing/WitEden, Type D by YongJun (YJ), and Type E by DianSheng.(75) Although these cubes are similiar in design to the original Rubik's Cube they are generally regarded as superior by speedcubers. For nearly 4 years these "Type" cubes dominate the world of speedcubing, and several models became available in each type (Type A I, Type A II, Type F1, Type F2 etc).(76) Towards the end of this period there are also "GhostHand" cubes,(76) (loosely associated with the Shengshou company). There are also some Korean-made cubes, notably the "Edison" cube,(76) but they are hard to get outside of South Korea. The final stage in this era is reached in mid 2010 with Type F2 and Type A5 (or Alpha V) cubes.(77) June 2010 sees Dayan introduce its Dayan GuHong cube - the first cube which can perform "reverse corner-cutting". This signals the end of an era, and with the launch of Dayan Zhanchi in 2011, a new age of speedcubes will begin.(75) Other dates important in this period are:

  • 2007 May 5: At the Spanish Open 2007, Thibaut Jacquinot achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 10 seconds (9.86 secs).(40)
  • 2007 August: Katsuhiko Okamoto wins the Jury Grand prize at the IPP 2007 Puzzle Design Competition for his Void Cube.(78)
  • 2007 October 7: The 4th World Rubik's Cube Championship is held in Budapest, Hungary. Yu Nakajima wins the 3×3 final with an average time of 12.46 seconds. Andrew Kang finishes second (13.05) and Mitsuki Gunji finishes third (13.05).(65)
  • 2008 May 5: At the Kashiwa Open 2008, Yu Nakajima achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 9 seconds (8.72 secs).(40)
  • 2008 June: Verdes' big V-Cubes (5×5×5, 6×6×6, 7×7×7) become available in the V-Cubes store.(65)
  • 2008 July 13: At the Czech Open 2008, Erik Akkersdijk achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 8 seconds (7.08 secs).(40)
  • 2008 September: The Mirror Blocks (Bump Cube) is released in Japan.(81) The cube was invented by Hidetoshi Takeji, and appeared at the design competition during IPP26 in 2006.(82)
  • 2009 July: Release of Rubik's 360 puzzle.(79)
  • 2009 September 4: Subreddit forum r/Cubers founded by Ilyanep.(80)
  • 2009 October 11: The 5th World Rubik's Cube Championship is held in Düsseldorf, Germany. Breandan Vallance wins the 3×3 final with an average time of 10.74 seconds. Erik Akkersdijk finishes second (11.52) and Tomasz Żołnowski finishes third (11.64).(65)
  • 2010 March: Release of Yuxin's huge 11×11×11 cube.(83)
  • 2010 June: The Dayan GuHong 3×3 cube is released.(83)
  • 2010 July: Tomas Rokicki, Herbert Kociemba, Morley Davidson, and John Dethridge prove that God's Number (maximum number of moves required to solve a Rubik's Cube) is exactly 20.(84)
  • 2010 November 13: At the Melbourne Cube Day 2010, Feliks Zemdegs achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 7 seconds (6.77 secs).(40)

2011 onwards: 2nd-generation speedcubes

April 2011 sees Dayan introduce its Dayan LunHui 3×3 cube: the first speedcube designed (imperfectly) to prevent pieces popping (falling out).(85) This is achieved with the use of "torpedos": small pieces of plastic that link corners to edges to prevent pops.(85) Dayan follows this 3 months later with the Dayan ZhanChi, a cube which receives great praise from the speedcubing community.(75) With its smoothness, corner-cutting, and anti-popping design, it is widely regarded as the best speedcube for the next two years.(75) Only with the release of the Moyu WeiLong in 2013 does Dayan's dominance come to an end.(86) Henceforth Moyu (a brand associated with YongJun or YJ)(87) becomes one of the dominant speedcube brands.(88) Important dates in this period are:

  • 2011 April: Release of the Dayan LunHui 3×3 cube.(83)
  • 2011 June 25: At the Melbourne Winter Open 2011, Feliks Zemdegs achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 6 seconds (5.66 secs).(40)
  • 2011 July: Release of the Dayan ZhanChi 3×3 cube.(83) It becomes the dominant cube for the next two years.(75)
  • 2011 October 14-16: The 6th World Rubik's Cube Championship is held in Thailand, Bangkok. Michał Pleskowicz wins the 3×3 final with an average time of 8.65 seconds. Rowe Hessler finishes second and Feliks Zemdegs finishes third.(89)
  • 2012 March 5: Florian Kreyssig publishes a video-tutorial showing his modification of the ShengShou 5×5 Cube which has been used by Feliks Zemdegs to set world records.(90) As a result "Florian modding" comes to imply rounded-off internal corners or "Florian holes".
  • 2012 April: Release of the Dayan GuHong v2 3×3 cube.(83)
  • 2012 December: Rubik's introduces their tiled Rubik's Cubes. (91)
  • 2013 May: Release of the Fangshi ShuangRen.(83) Seen as the first really good cube after the Dayan ZhanChi.(92)
  • 2013 June: Release of the Moyu WeiLong 3×3 cube.(83) It regarded as the best new cube of the year.(86) Another highly-regarded cube, the ShengShou Jiguang (Aurora) 3×3, is also released.(83)
  • 2013 July 26-28: The 7th World Rubik's Cube Championship is held in Las Vegas, USA. Feliks Zemdegs wins the 3×3 final with an average time of 8.18 seconds. Mats Valk finishes second and Sebastian Weyer finishes third.(93)
  • 2013 November: Rubik's introduces their first 3×3 speedcube.(83) It is generally regarded as a "below average" speedcube.(94)
  • 2014 May 19: "40th anniversary" of the invention of Rubik's Cube. Google celebrates with an interactive Doodle on its front page.(95)
  • 2014 May: Release of the Moyu Aolong 3×3 cube. This is followed in July by Moyu's Aolong v2 cube.(83) This sets a new standard for speed cubes.(96)
  • 2014 November: Release of Moyu's huge 13×13×13 cube.(83)
  • 2015 May: Release of the QiYi Leiting (Thunderclap) 3×3 cube - a highly regarded budget cube.(97)
  • 2015 July 17-19: The 8th World Rubik's Cube Championship is held in São Paulo, Brazil. Feliks Zemdegs wins the 3×3 final with an average time of 7.56 seconds. Mats Valk finishes second and Jakub Kipa finishes third.(98)
  • 2015 November 21: At the River Hill Fall 2015, Lucas Etter achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 5 seconds (4.90 secs).(40)
  • 2016 April: Release of the Moyu Weilong GTS 3×3 cube. It is seen as one of the three best cubes of 2016 along with the Gans 356 Air and the Valk 3.(99)
  • 2016 May: QiYi pioneers the use of magnets as a positioning aid in the Pyraminx.(100)
  • 2016 August: Release of the Gans 356 Air 3×3 cube. An upgrade of their previous 356 cube, it is seen as one of the most highly engineered cubes to date.(101)
  • 2016 August: Release of the QiYi Valk 3 3×3 cube. Designed with the cooperation of Mats Valk, on November 6 he sets a new world record of 4.74 seconds with this cube.(102)
  • 2016 September: The Cubicle.us store pioneers the use of magnets as a positioning aid in 3×3 cubes.(103)
  • 2016 November 10: After a 10-year legal battle the European Court of Justice rules that the Rubik's Cube shape cannot be trademark in the EU.(59b)
  • 2017 July 13-16: The 9th World Rubik's Cube Championship is held in Paris, France. Max Park wins the 3×3 final with an average time of 6.85 seconds. Seung Hyuk Nahm finished second and Lucas Etter finished third.
  • 2018 May 6: At the Cube for Cambodia 2018 in Melbourne, Feliks Zemdegs achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 4.5 seconds (4.22 secs).
  • 2018 November 24: At the Wuhu Open 2018 in Wuhu, China, Yusheng Du achieves the first official 3×3 solve under 4 seconds (3.47 secs).

References