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Rubik’s Cube celebrates 40th birthday with New Jersey exhibition

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Happy birthday wishes go out to Hungary’s contribution to the world’s toybox, as the Rubik’s Cube celebrates its 40th this month. In honor of this popular amusement, “Beyond’s Rubik’s Cube,” said to be the first-ever museum exhibit devoted to the cube opened last Wednesday at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey.

The utterly maddening puzzle cube was invented in 1974 by inventor/architect Ernő Rubik and was reportedly first conceived of as an instructional tool to help his students think spatially. 

After it was exported in 1980, it became the world’s fastest-selling toy. Though typically associated as a strictly-80s item, worldwide sales today are just about equal to those of the cube’s heyday. According to Liberty Science Center CEO/president Paul Hoffman, about 10 million Rubik’s-branded cubes are sold annually and some 1.5 billion have been sold since ’80 including knockoffs of like design.

Among the items on display within “Beyond Rubik’s Cube” are the humble prototypes of the cube constructed of wood and rubber bands. The famous Masterpiece Cube created by Fred Cueller of Diamond Cutters International, an 18-karat gold piece encrusted with some 1,360 jewels and valued at $1.5 million, may also be seen at the show.

“Beyond Rubik’s Cube” will begin a worldwide tour in November.

In case you were wondering, incidentally, Mr. Rubik himself was quoted in the New Jersey Star-Ledger at the exhibit’s grand opening as saying he can solve a jumbled cube in an average time of one minute. “That’s not very fast,” he assessed. “it’s very normal.”

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