Rubik’s Cube turns 50 years, which is about as long as it’d take us to solve one

Decades later, the legend of the ever-confounding 3x3 color grid grows richer by the day.

Forty-three quintillion. That’s the number of combinations a Rubik’s Cube has — and with a little more time, it’ll probably be the number of total Rubik’s Cubes sold.

Rubik's Cube sales versus other toys

One of the world’s most successful toys is turning 50 years old this year, and sales are still hot:

  • In 1974, Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor Erno Rubik created the puzzle (which initially took him a month to solve).
  • By 1979, the toy had sold ~300k units.
  • By 1980, sales were north of 100m.
  • In 2022, another 5.75m cubes were sold, bringing the current tally to 456m+.

Who’s seeing that windfall?

Erno Rubik is still with us: he’s 79 years old and living the good life — “reading sci-fi, playing table tennis, gardening” — in Budapest.

But today, the Rubik’s brand belongs to Spin Master, a children’s entertainment company with ~$2B in annual revenues and holdings like Etch A Sketch, PAW Patrol, Kinetic Sand, and Hatchimals.

  • In 2021, Spin Master completed a $55.2m purchase of the Rubik’s portfolio.
  • Seems like a savvy investment: The toy drove $75.3m in sales in 2022 and maintains 42% market share of the brain teaser category, according to CNBC.

To keep the legendary brand fresh, Spin Master has been quick to find new offshoots for the Cube, including extensions to the core product line:

  • Rubik’s Phantom is printed with thermochromic ink — it appears all black until a puzzler’s hands activate its colors.
  • Rubik’s Impossible has iridescent tiles that look different at every angle.

And yeah, before you ask: There is early talk of a Rubik’s Cube movie. (After the success of Barbie, of course there is.) Now, take a whirl through throwback Erno pics — then join us in waiting for Deadline to drop that inevitable Zac Efron casting news.

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Topics: Toys

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