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Ernő Rubik

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Ernő Rubik
Rubik in 2014
Born (1944-07-13) 13 July 1944 (age 80)
  • 1962–1967 University of Technology, Budapest (architecture)
  • 1967–1971 Hungarian Academy of Applied Arts; Interior Architecture and Design
Occupation(s)Inventor, designer, businessman
Years active1971−present
EmployerRubik Brand Ltd. (U.S.)
Known forPuzzle designer of Rubik's Cube, inventor, architect, professor
Board member ofJudit Polgar Foundation
SpouseÁgnes Hégely[1]
ParentErnő Rubik

Ernő Rubik (Hungarian: [ˈrubik ˈɛrnøː]; born 13 July 1944) is a Hungarian inventor, widely known for creating the Rubik's Cube (1974), Rubik's Magic, Rubik's Magic: Master Edition, and Rubik's Snake.[2]

While Rubik became famous for inventing the Rubik's Cube and his other puzzles, much of his recent work involves the promotion of science in education. Rubik is involved with several organizations such as Beyond Rubik's Cube, the Rubik Learning Initiative and the Judit Polgar Foundation, all of which aim to engage students in science, mathematics, and problem solving at a young age.

Rubik studied sculpture at the Academy of Applied Arts and Design in Budapest and architecture at the Technical University, also in Budapest. While a professor of design at the academy, he pursued his hobby of building geometric models. One of these was a prototype of his cube, made of 27 wooden blocks; it took Rubik a month to solve the problem of the cube. It proved a useful tool for teaching algebraic group theory, and in late 1977 Konsumex, Hungary's state trading company, began marketing it. By 1980 Rubik's Cube was marketed throughout the world, and over 100 million authorized units, with an estimated 50 million unauthorized imitations, were sold, mostly during its subsequent three years of popularity. Approximately 50 books were published describing how to solve the puzzle of Rubik's Cube. Following his cube's popularity, Rubik opened a studio to develop designs in 1984; among its products was another popular puzzle toy, Rubik's Magic.

Early life and education[edit]

Ernő Rubik was born in Budapest, Hungary, on 13 July 1944,[3] during World War II, and has lived all of his life in Hungary. His father, Ernő Rubik, was a flight engineer at the Esztergom aircraft factory, and his mother, Magdolna Szántó, was a poet.[4] He has stated in almost every interview that he got his inspiration from his father.

His father, Ernő, was a highly respected engineer of gliders. His extensive work and expertise in this area gained him an international reputation as an expert in his field. Ernő Rubik has stated that:[5]

Beside him I learned a lot about work in the sense of a value-creating process which has a target, and a positive result too. Both figuratively and literally he was a person capable of 'moving a hill'. There was nothing that could prevent him from doing what he decided or bringing a project to a completion, if necessary even with his own hands. No work was unworthy or undeserving for him.

From 1958 to 1962, Rubik specialized in sculpture at the Secondary School of Fine and Applied Arts. From 1962 to 1967, Rubik attended the Budapest University of Technology where he became a member of the Architecture Faculty. From 1967 to 1971, Rubik attended the Hungarian Academy of Applied Arts and was in the Faculty of Interior Architecture and Design.[5]

Rubik considers university and the education it afforded him as the decisive event which shaped his life. Rubik stated, "Schools offered me the opportunity to acquire knowledge of subjects or rather crafts that need a lot of practice, persistence, and diligence with the direction of a mentor."[5]


Professorship and origin of the Rubik's Cube[edit]

From 1971 to 1979, Rubik was a professor of architecture at the Budapest College of Applied Arts (Iparművészeti Főiskola). It was during his time there that he built designs for a three-dimensional puzzle and completed the first working prototype of the Rubik's Cube in 1974, applying for a patent on the puzzle in 1975. In an interview with CNN, Rubik stated that he was "searching to find a good task for my students."[6]

Space always intrigued me, with its incredibly rich possibilities, space alteration by (architectural) objects, objects' transformation in space (sculpture, design), movement in space and in time, their correlation, their repercussion on mankind, the relation between man and space, the object and time. I think the CUBE arose from this interest, from this search for expression and for this always more increased acuteness of these thoughts...

Rubik's Cube

Starting with blocks of wood and rubber bands, Rubik set out to create a structure that would allow the individual pieces to move without the whole structure falling apart. Rubik originally used wood for the block because of the convenience of a workshop at the university and because he viewed wood as a simple material to work with that did not require sophisticated machinery. Rubik made the original prototypes of his cube by hand, cutting the wood, boring the holes and using elastic bands to hold the contraption together.[6]

Rubik showed his prototype to his class and his students liked it very much. Rubik realized that, because of the cube's simple structure, it could be manufactured relatively easily and might have appeal to a larger audience. Rubik's father possessed several patents, so Rubik was familiar with the process and applied for a patent for his invention. Rubik then set out to find a manufacturer in Hungary, but had great difficulty due to the rigid planned economy of communist Hungary at the time. Eventually, Rubik was able to find a small company that worked with plastic and made chess pieces.[5] The cube was originally known in Hungary as the Magic Cube.[7]

Rubik licensed the Magic Cube to Ideal Toys, a US company in 1979. Ideal rebranded The Magic Cube to the Rubik's Cube before its introduction to an international audience in 1980.[8][9] The process from early prototype to mass production of the Cube had taken over six years.[6] The Rubik's Cube became an instant success worldwide, won several Toy of the Year awards, and became a staple of 1980s popular culture. To date, over 350 million Rubik's Cubes have been sold, making it one of the best selling toys of all time. There are many sizes from 2x2 to 21x21.[8][10]

Other inventions[edit]

In addition to Rubik's Cube, Rubik is also the inventor of Rubik's Magic, Rubik's Snake and Rubik's 360 among others.[11]

Later career and other works[edit]

In the early 1980s, he became the editor of a game and puzzle journal called ..És játék (...And games), then became self-employed in 1983, founding the Rubik Stúdió, where he designed furniture and games. In 1987, he became a professor with full tenure; in 1990 he became the president of the Hungarian Engineering Academy (Magyar Mérnöki Akadémia). At the academy, he created the International Rubik Foundation to support especially talented young engineers and industrial designers.

He attended the 2007 World Championship in Budapest.[12][13] He also gave a lecture and autograph session at the "Bridges-Pecs" conference ("Bridges between Mathematics and the Arts") in July 2010.[14]

In 2009, he was appointed as an honorary professor of Keimyung University, Daegu, South Korea.[15]

In the 2010s, Rubik has recently spent much of his time working on Beyond Rubik's Cube, a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM fields) based exhibition, which would travel the globe over the next six years.[16] The grand opening of the exhibit was held on 26 April 2014 at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. At the exhibition, Rubik gave several lectures, tours, and engaged with the public and several members of the speedcubing crowd in attendance, including Anthony Michael Brooks, a world-class speedcuber.[17][18]

Rubik is a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's advisory board.[19]


Ernő Rubik has listed several individuals who, as he has said, "exerted a great influence over me through their work." These include Leonardo da Vinci, whom Rubik regards as the Renaissance man; Michelangelo, whom he respects as a polymath, painter, and sculptor; and artist M. C. Escher, who drew impossible constructions and grappled with explorations of infinity. As regards to philosophers and writers, Rubik admires Voltaire, Stendhal, Thomas Mann, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hungarian poet Attila József, Jules Verne, and Isaac Asimov. In the field of architecture, Rubik is an admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Rubik describes himself as a lifelong bibliophile, saying "books offered me the possibility of gaining knowledge of the world, nature and people." He has a special interest in science fiction. As well, he is fond of nature walks, sports, sailing on Lake Balaton — and gardening, saying "collecting succulents is my favourite pastime."[5]

Prizes and awards[edit]

  • 1978 – Budapest International Trade Fair, Prize for the Cube[5]
  • 1980 – Toy of the Year: Federal Republic of Germany, United Kingdom, France, USA[5]
  • 1981 – Toy of the Year: Finland, Sweden, Italy[5]
  • 1982 – Toy of the Year: United Kingdom (second time)[5]
  • 1982 – The Museum of Modern Art, New York selected Rubik's Cube into its permanent collection[5]
  • 1983 – Hungarian State Prize for demonstrating and teaching 3D structures and for the various solutions that inspired scientific researches in several ways[5]
  • 1988 – Juvenile Prize from the State Office of Youth and Sport[5]
  • 1995 – Dénes Gabor Prize from the Novofer Foundation as an acknowledgement of achievements in the field of innovation[5]
  • 1996 – Ányos Jedlik Prize from the Hungarian Patent Office[5]
  • 1997 – Prize for the Reputation of Hungary (1997)[5]
  • 2007 – Kossuth Prize the most prestigious cultural award in Hungary[5]
  • 2008 – Moholy-Nagy Prize – from the Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design[5]
  • 2009 – EU Ambassador of the Year of Creativity and Innovation[20]
  • 2010 – USA Science and Engineering Festival Award (Outstanding Contribution to Science Education)[21]
  • 2014 – Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen (The highest Hungarian state honour)[22]
  • 2014 – Honorary Citizen of Budapest[23]


  • Co-author of The Rubik's Cube Compendium (written by David Singmaster, Ernő Rubik, Gerzson Kéri, György Marx, Tamás Varga and Tamás Vekerdy), Oxford University Press, 1987.[24]
  • Author of Cubed – The Puzzle of Us All, Flatiron Books/Orion Publishing Group /Hachette UK/Libri, 2020.[25]


  1. ^ "Gyermekkorunk játékmestere: Rubik Ernő". 12 July 2019.
  2. ^ William Fotheringham (2007). Fotheringham's Sporting Pastimes. Anova Books. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-86105-953-6.
  3. ^ Alter, Alexandra (16 September 2020). "He Invented the Rubik's Cube. He's Still Learning From It". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 July 2024.
  4. ^ International Who's Who 2000. Europa. 1999. pp. 1342. ISBN 1-85743-050-6.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Europa Interview with Ernő Rubik Archived 28 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 5 May 2014
  6. ^ a b c The little cube that changed the world Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Rubik's Cube". First Versions. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b Villapaz, Luke."Rubik's Cube 40th Anniversary: 9 Facts Behind The Famous 3-D Toy Puzzle".International Business Times, 25 April 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014
  9. ^ "The history of Rubik's Cube", Rubik's:The home of Rubik's Cube, retrieved and archived 6 February 2017
  10. ^ "Rubik's Cube 25 years on: crazy toys, crazy times", Independent, 15 August 2007.
  11. ^ "Japan teen in historic Rubik win". BBC News. 8 October 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  12. ^ John Nadler, "Squaring Up to the Rubik's Cube", Time, 9 October 2007.
  13. ^ "25 years on" Archived 15 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine Erno Rubik interview at the Rubik's Cube official website, retrieved 9 May 2010
  14. ^ "Bridges Conference" Archived 24 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine List of Plenary speakers, retrieved 26 July 2010
  15. ^ "Cube Exhibition May Come to Korea". The Korea Times. 24 September 2009.
  16. ^ "Beyond Rubik's Cube" Archived 25 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine Liberty Science Center, N.D. Retrieved 6 May 2014
  17. ^ Barron, James. "A Cube With a Twist: At 40, It Puzzles Anew". The New York Times, 25 April 2014. retrieved 6 May 2014
  18. ^ Matheson Whitney. "Forty years later, the Rubik's Cube still puzzles". USA Today, 25 April 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014
  19. ^ US Science and Engineering Festival Advisors Archived 21 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  20. ^ Rubik's cube and EU Politics: The Manifesto for Creativity and Innovation in Europe Retrieved Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine 5 May 2014
  21. ^ Ernő Rubik Awarded with the Outstanding Contributions to Science Education Award Archived 5 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 5 May 2014
  22. ^ Ernő Rubik Awarded the Highest Medal Awarded by the country of Hungary Archived 19 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 23 August 2014
  23. ^ Ernő Rubik Named as an Honorary Citizen of Budapest Retrieved 23 August 2014
  24. ^ Rubik, Ernö (21 April 1988). Rubik's Cube Compendium (Recreations in Mathematics, 3). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198532024.
  25. ^ Rubik, Erno (15 September 2020). Cubed: The Puzzle of Us All. Orion. ISBN 978-1-4746-1313-2.

External links[edit]