This article is from http://www.doyouremember.co.uk/ a great place to reminisce!
The Rubics Cube was invented 30 years ago! The Rubics cube, or "The colourful cube of frustration" as it was dubbed in our playgrounds, had vast swathes of the child population in it's thrall when it was first released.
In the early 1980's it seemed that every man and boy had one, and was trying to solve it, like some national enigma machine - it was whispered that if you solved it you were taken away to work for the space program.
For those of us that were there, back in the 1980's, they'll know that the achievement of completing the rubiks cube (hey, even one side of it!) held more cache than GCSE's or Yo-yo-ing ever did. I sat for hours trying to work that thing out, finally being reduced to painstakingly peeling off the stickers and putting them back on in order.
There was always one child you knew who had worked out (or who's father had worked out) some kind of special move that resulted in all colours going in the right places - and would amaze specially invited groups of children to swamp round him and watch the magic moves in action.
Apparently there's been more than 350 million Rubiks cubes sold worldwide since it was invented in 1980 by Hungarian university lecturer Erno Rubik. I thought most of these would have been sold in the 1980's but not so, there are now a whole new generation of 'Cubers', there are national and international competitions, 'Speedcubers' compete to solve the puzzle in the quickest possible time. At the first World Championship in 1982, the fastest average solve was 22.9 seconds. In 2008, the 'single solve' record was set at an incredible 7.08 seconds.
So there's progress for you.
Although who's to say continuing Rubic's cubes championships are progress?
According to people in white coats (people who did their maths at school) there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations on a Rubiks cube. These are millions of man hours we must be talking about! We could have gotten to Mars by now if it wasn't for that darned Rubik's cube!
But it's all in the name of fun. Frustration and fun.
BTW - what ever happens to all the solved rubics cubes? 350 million sold, and until yesterday I'd not seen one in years! Do they self-destruct when you complete them? They could and I really wouldn't know...