June 6th, 2014, 22:12 PM
Tetris Turns 30 Ahead of Summer Console Launch
Wildly popular video game Tetris launched 30 years ago today, and continues to capture the hearts of folks around the world.
Topping best-of video game lists for years, the colorful block puzzle has sold an estimated 170 million copies—about 100 million of which are played on mobile devices.
But the game, built in June 1984 by the Soviet Academy of Sciences' Alexey Pajitnov, got its start on the rack-mounted Elektronika 60 computer, which, incidentally, had no graphics output and instead formed the famed blocks out of ASCII characters.
Programmer Vadim Gerasimov ported the title—a combination of tetromino (each block is made of four squares) and tennis, Pajitnov's favorite game—to the IBM PC.
In no time, Tetris was sweeping the nation, quickly migrating from Russia to Hungary, and beyond. Three years later, a version of the game, featuring pixelated scenes of Russia in the background, reached the U.S.
Foggy licensing details meant that, by 1989, a handful of different companies claimed the right to publish the game for PCs and consoles. In the late 1980s, Nintendo released what is arguably the most well-known iteration: Game Boy Tetris, which sold more than 33 million copies before the handheld device was discontinued in 2003.
More than 10 years after launching the original title, Pajitnov in 1996 earned the rights to the game. At the same time, The Tetris Company was founded, taking out "Tetris" trademark registrations in almost every country in the world.
But the game will soon return to living rooms thanks to a recent partnership between Ubisoft and The Tetris Company, which will release Tetris Ultimate for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this summer, ahead of its PC launch in the fall.