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Ernő Rubik

Ernő Rubik
Rubik at the 2014 Genius Gala
Born Ernö Rubik
(1944-07-13) 13 July 1944
Budapest, Hungary
Nationality Hungarian

1962–67 University of Technology, Budapest (architecture)

1967–71 Hungarian Academy of Applied Arts; Interior Architecture and Design
Occupation Inventor, designer, board executive
Employer Rubik Brand ltd. (UK)
Known for Puzzle designer of Rubik's Cube, inventor, architect, professor
Title Chairman
Board member of Judit Polgar Foundation
Spouse(s) Ágnes Hégely
Children Ágnes, Anna, Ernő Jr, Szonja

Ernő Rubik (Hungarian: ; born 13 July 1944) is a Hungarian inventor, architect and professor of architecture. He is best known for the invention of mechanical puzzles including Rubik's Cube (1974), Rubik's Magic, Rubik's Magic: Master Edition, and Rubik's Snake.

While Rubik became famous for 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 whose aim is to engage students in science, mathematics, and problem solving at a young age.


  • Early life 1
    • Childhood and parental influence 1.1
    • Education 1.2
  • Career 2
    • Early professorship and birth of Rubik's Cube 2.1
    • From classroom tool to Magic Cube to Rubik's Cube 2.2
    • Other inventions 2.3
    • Later career and other works 2.4
  • Recent work and engagements 3
  • Influences 4
  • Cultural and leisure pursuits 5
  • Prizes and awards 6
  • Publications 7
  • Foundations and appearances 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Childhood and parental influence

Ernő Rubik was born in Budapest, Hungary, 13 July 1944, during World War II, and has lived all 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.[1]

His father, Ernő Sr., 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:[2]


From 1958 to 1962, Rubik specialised 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 on the Faculty of Interior Architecture and Design.[2]

Rubik considers university and the education it afforded him as the decisive event which shaped his life. Rubik has stated that, "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."[2]


Early professorship and birth of Rubik's Cube

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 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."[3]

Rubik's Cube

From classroom tool to Magic Cube to Rubik's Cube

Starting with blocks of wood and rubber bands, Rubik set out to create a structure which 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[3]

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 Hungary at the time. Eventually Rubik was able to find a small company that worked with plastic and made chess pieces.[2] The cube was originally known in Hungary as the Magic Cube.

Rubik licensed the Magic Cube to Ideal Toys, a New York based company, who in 1979 rebranded The Magic Cube to the Rubik's Cube before its introduction to an international audience in 1980.[4] The process from early prototype to significant mass production of the Cube had taken over six years.[3] The Rubik's Cube would go on to become an instant success worldwide, winning several Toy of the Year awards, and becoming a staple of 1980's popular culture. To date, the Rubik's Cube has sold over 350 million units, making it the best selling toy of all time.[4]

Other inventions

In addition to the Rubik's Cube, Rubik is also the inventor of the Rubik's Magic, Rubik's Magic: Master Edition, Rubik's Snake, Rubik's Tangle, and Rubik's 360.

Later career and other works

In the early 1980s, he became 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 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.

Recent work and engagements

Rubik has recently spent much of his time working on Beyond Rubik's Cube, a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM fields) based exhibition, which will travel the globe over the next six years.[5] The grand opening of the exhibit was held on 26 April 2014 at the Liberty Science Center outside New York City. 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.[6][7]


Ernő Rubik has listed several individuals who, as he said, "exerted a great influence over me through their work." These include Leonardo da Vinci who Rubik regards as the Renaissance man, Michelangelo who he respects as a polymath, painter, sculptor, and architect, M.C. Escher, an artist who built impossible constructions and grappled with the 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.[2]

Cultural and leisure pursuits

Rubik admits to being a lifelong bibliophile and has stated, "Books offered me the possibility of gaining knowledge of the World, Nature and People." Rubik has stated that he has a special interest in science fiction.

Rubik is fond of outdoor activities such as walking through nature, playing sports, and sailing on Lake Balaton. Rubik is also an avid gardener and has stated that, "collecting succulents are my favourite pastime."[2]

Prizes and awards

  • 1978 – Budapest International Trade Fair, Prize for the Cube[2]
  • 1980 – Toy of the Year: Federal Republic of Germany, United Kingdom, France, USA [2]
  • 1981 – Toy of the Year: Finland, Sweden, Italy [2]
  • 1982 – Toy of the Year: United Kingdom (second time)[2]
  • 1982 – The Museum of Modern Art, New York selected Rubik's Cube into its permanent collection [2]
  • 1983 – Hungarian State Prize for demonstrating and teaching 3D structures and for the various solutions that inspired scientific researches in several ways [2]
  • 1988 – Juvenile Prize from the State Office of Youth and Sport[2]
  • 1995 – Dénes Gabor Prize from the Novofer Foundation as an acknowledgement of achievements in the field of innovation[2]
  • 1996 – Ányos Jedlik Prize from the Hungarian Patent Office [2]
  • 1997 – Prize for the Reputation of Hungary (1997) [2]
  • 2007 – Kossuth Prize the most prestigious cultural award in Hungary[2]
  • 2008 – Moholy-Nagy Prize – from the Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design[2]
  • 2009 – EU Ambassador of the Year of Creativity and Innovation[8]
  • 2010 – USA Science and Engineering Festival Award (Outstanding Contribution to Science Education)[9]
  • 2010 – The Hungarian Order of Merit Commanders Cross with the Star
  • 2010 – Prima Primissima Prize
  • 2012 – My Country Awards
  • 2014 - Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen. (The highest medal awarded by Hungary)[10]
  • 2014 - Honorary Citizen of Budapest [11]


Editor and co-author of A bűvös kocka ("The Magic Cube"), Műszaki Kiadó, Budapest, 1981.

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.[12]

Foundations and appearances

He attended the 2007 World Championship in Budapest.[13][14] He also gave a lecture and autograph session at the "Bridges-Pecs" conference ("Bridges between Mathematics and the Arts") in July 2010.[15]

Rubik is a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.[16]


  1. ^ International Who's Who 2000. Europa. 1999. p. 1342.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Europa Interview with Ernő Rubik Retrieved 5 May 2014
  3. ^ a b c The little cube that changed the world Retrieved 2013-04-29.
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ "Beyond Rubik's Cube" Liberty Science Center, N.D. Retrieved 6 May 2014
  6. ^ Barron, James. "A Cube With a Twist: At 40, It Puzzles Anew". The New York Time, 25 April 2014. retrieved 6 May 2014
  7. ^ Matheson Whitney. "Forty years later, the Rubik's Cube still puzzles". USA Today, 25 April 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014
  8. ^ Rubik's cube and EU Politics: The Manifesto for Creativity and Innovation in Europe Retrieved 5 May 2014
  9. ^ Ernő Rubik Awarded with the Outstanding Contributions to Science Education Award Retrieved 5 May 2014
  10. ^ Ernő Rubik Awarded the Highest Medal Awarded by the country of Hungary Retrieved 23 August 2014
  11. ^ Ernő Rubik Named as an Honorary Citizen of Budapest Retrieved 23 August 2014
  12. ^ The Rubik’s Cube Compendium
  13. ^ John Nadler, "Squaring Up to the Rubik's Cube", Time, 9 October 2007.
  14. ^ "25 years on" Erno Rubik interview at the Rubik's Cube official website, retrieved 9 May 2010
  15. ^ "Bridges Conference" List of Plenary speakers, retrieved 26 July 2010
  16. ^ US Science and Engineering Festival Advisors Retrieved 2010-07-05.

External links

  • An interview with Ernő Rubik
  • His biography at (Hungarian)
  • His first print interview in ten years
  • An exclusive video interview about the new Rubik's 360
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