12 Things You Didn't Know About the Rubik's Cube

By Spencer Hart on at

If you visited Google on Monday, you might have played with the interactive Google Doodle which was celebrating 40 glorious years of the Rubik's Cube. Everyone has played with one, a few people have completed one and now it's time to learn 12 facts about everyone's favourite cube twisting puzzle.


1.) The puzzle wasn't originally intended to be a toy

Erno Rubik, a professor of architecture at the Budapest College of Applied Arts, invented the puzzle cube in 1974. Although it's widely reported that he created the cube to explain three-dimensional geometry to his students, he actually built it as a model which would allow individual pieces to move without the whole structure falling apart. He didn't realise he had created a puzzle until he first scrambled the wooden cube then tried to restore it. After he received positive feedback from his student, he applied for a patent and began manufacturing the 'Magic Cube' in Hungary. [Image Credit: LSC]


2.) A Rubik's Cube has 43 Quintillion possible configurations

With six coloured sides, 21 pieces and 54 individual squares, there is a total of 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible configurations, that's over 43 quintillion. If you turned a Rubik's Cube once every second, it would take you 14,000 trillion years to see every single configuration. Better get started now then. [Image Credit: RubiksCubingCroatia]


3.) It's the best selling toy of all time

Yes, over a billion Barbies have been sold, but because of her endless variations -- the Rubik's Cube is the best selling individual toy in history, with over 350 million units sold since 1980. When it first released the puzzle was so popular it won Toy of the Year two years running, in 1980 and 1981. [Image Credit: ShutterStock]


4.) Erno Rubik called it 'The Magic Cube'

Erno Rubik first introduced the toy in Hungary as the 'Magic Cube'. When he licensed his invention to the Ideal Toy Corporation in 1979, they planned to change the name to 'The Gordian Knot' or 'Inca Gold' -- that was until someone decided on 'Rubik's Cube'. The inventor said in an interview, "From my mouth, it sounds strange to call it 'Rubik's cube. If I have a child, I call it 'my child,' not 'Rubik's boy' or 'Rubik's girl.' Naturally, after 40 years, I have a strong relationship with my cube." [Image Credit: Jin Thai Flickr]


5.) The world record for solving the puzzle is held by a LEGO robot

The CubeStormer 3, a robot made from LEGO and a smartphone, currently holds the Guinness World Record for solving the puzzle in 3.253 seconds. In 2013 Mats Valk from the Netherlands set the human record with a time of 5.55 seconds -- not quite beating our robot overlords, but close. [Image Credit: Youtube]


6.) The first International Rubik's Championships was held in 1982

The winner of the first annual International Rubik's Championships was 16-year-old Minh Thai, a Vietnamese-American high school student. His time was a leisurely (by today's standards) 22.95 seconds. Minh went on to write a book titled The Winning Solution, a guide to solving the cube. [Image Credit: Youtube]


7.) The world's largest Rubik's Cube weighs over 500kg

Proving everything is bigger in America, a three metre tall Rubik's Cube was created for the 1982 Knoxville Fair. It weighs over 500kg and was powered by motors which are now broken. The giant cube holds the unofficial record for the largest Rubik's Cube and is one of the main tourist attractions of Knoxville, Tennessee. [Image Credit: Jim's Big Things]


8.) The smallest Rubik's Cube was 3D printed by Russian Evgeniy Grigoriev

At the opposite end of the scale to America's giant cube is the world's smallest Rubik's Cube made by Evgeniy Grigoriev. The cube is just 8mm wide but in full mechanical working order. [Image Credit: ShapeWays]


9.) The most expensive Rubik's Cube is valued at £900,000

Want to solve a 3D puzzle but can't stand cheap plastic? Well this niche product might be up your alley. Created by Diamond Cutters International in 1995, the 'Masterpiece Cube' features 22.5 carats of amethyst, 34 carats of rubies and 34 carats of emeralds, set in 18-carat gold. Valued at £900,000 ($1.5m) it's an excellent object to demonstrate that you have more money than sense. [Image Credit: Born Rich]


10.) A Chinese toddler can solve the Rubik's Cube in under two minutes

Ready to feel inadequate? A three-year old Chinese toddler solved the Rubik's Cube in under two minutes -- on stage, like a total boss. [Image Credit: YouTube]


11.) They're not just toys -- they're art

In 2011 Josh Chalom pixilated 40 famous artworks and 29 'cubers' twisted hundreds of cheap Chinese counterfeit cubes to create the mosaic artwork. This style of work is comically called Rubik's Cubism. [Image Credit: LoyalKNG]


12.) People can be really creative

Okay, so this isn't a fact per se, but it's really interesting to see how creative YouTubers can solve Rubik's Cubes. One large-lunged cuber can solve them underwater, one muscular chap can solve it while doing one-handed pushups and then there's the nipple technique. [Image Credit: SwimmersDaily]