Erno Rubik was a child when he first became obsessed with puzzles of all kinds. “Puzzles,” he writes, “bring out important qualities in each of us: concentration, curiosity, a sense of play, the eagerness to discover a solution.” To Rubik puzzles aren’t just games—they’re creativity machines. “If you don’t really mind if you are winning or losing, you enjoy the play …” he says. “I learn most from my failures — that is the way to learn, that is the way to be successful.” He was obsessed with puzzles and solving problems as a kid. He invented the cube in 1974, and when it was first sold in Hungarian toy shops in 1977 it flew off shelves.
In the nearly five decades since, the Rubik’s Cube has become one of the most enduring, beguiling, maddening, and absorbing puzzles ever created. More than 350 million cubes have sold globally; if you include knockoffs, the number is far higher. They captivate computer programmers, philosophers, and artists.
But even as the Rubik’s Cube conquered the world, the publicity-averse man behind it has remained a mystery. “Cubed,” which comes out this week, is partly his memoir, partly an intellectual treatise and in large part, a love story about his evolving relationship with the invention that bears his name and the global community of cubers fixated on it. “I don’t want to write an autobiography, because I am not interested in my life or sharing my life,” Rubik said “The key reason I did it is to try to understand what’s happened and why it has happened. What is the real nature of the cube?”
In his new book ‘Cubed’, Rubik covers more than just his journey to inventing his eponymous cube. He makes a case for always being an amateur—something he has always considered himself to be. He discusses the inevitability of problems during any act of invention. He reveals what it was like to experience the astonishing worldwide success of an object he made purely for his own play. And he offers what he thinks it means to be a true creator (hint: anyone can do it). Steeped in the wisdom and also the humility of a born inventor, Cubed offers a unique look at the imperfect science of creation.