Tetris turns 30 years old today! To celebrate it and the announcement of Tetris Ultimate, we're sharing five fun facts about the on of the most prolific games of all time.
1. Tetris Origins
Tetris released on June 6, 1984 and was created by Alexi Pajitnov at the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow. It was programmed for the Electronika 60, and used basic graphics with no sound, but was later ported to the PC. A color version was made in 1985, and this is what was popularized.
2. Where Tetris got its name
The name Tetris is derived from Pajitnov's favorite puzzle game, Tetromino, and his favorite sport, Tennis. In Tetromino, players are challenged with fitting puzzle pieces into a box without any spaces. Pajitnov put in his own twist by including gravity as a factor. Players had to create horizontal lines with shapes that fell at increasing speeds.
3. Tetris and The USSR
Since Pajitnov worked for the Soviet government, Tetris was technically property of the State. For this reason, he would not see any money come from his creation until 1996, when rights reverted from Russia to him. He then partnered with Henk Rogers and formed The Tetris Company to manage licensing. Tetris remains one of history's most popular games, with adaptations, versions and imitations on practically every device with a screen.
4. Tetris copyright wars
Tetris was the subject of a major dispute between ELORG, the Soviet government's foreign trade organization for computer hardware and software, and a number of Western companies. After years of legal battles that included the then video game giant Atari, Henk Rogers and Nintendo emerged as the official owners in 1989. Nintendo bundled the game with the NES and handheld Game Boy, which is where it picked up its iconic soundtrack.
5. Tetris breaks the Iron Curtain
Tetris is the first entertainment software to be exported from the USSR to the United States. It was marketed as a peek behind the Iron Curtain and an example of Soviet culture during the height of the Cold War.
Bonus: Tetris reorganizes your brain
Tetris became the subject of scientific study. It was found that playing the game for prolonged periods of time caused people to see Tetris patterns in how the real world fit together. Sufferers might also dream of falling tetrominos, or see them in the periphery of their vision when they close their eyes. This was categorized as a form of hallucination, and was officially named the Tetris Effect (or Tetris Syndrome). In 2012, studies suggested that Tetris could help stave off symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.