Top 25 "It" products of all time: #6 -- The Rubik's Cube


If you, too, listened to NPR's Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me in the last few weeks, you'll know that the record for solving the Rubik's Cube was recently broken. That is, the record for the slowest solver. Graham Parker took 26 years to solve the cube.

If you know anything about the history of the Rubik's Cube, you'll know that wasn't an easy record to set. The puzzle was invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor, but wasn't commercially produced until 1980, by Ideal Toys. Over the next 25 years, 300 million of the cubes would be sold, making it, according to its manufacturers, the world's best-selling toy.

When the cube was first introduced in the U.S., it had to be retrofitted to meet British and American safety standards, so supplies were low and many cheap imitations sprung up to fill in the gaps between supply and demand. The new cube didn't reach stores until right before Christmas in 1980; it had already been named the "toy of the year" and everyone wanted one.