Happy 30th birthday, Tetris!

Today, we’re delighted to be wishing a very happy 30th birthday to Tetris!

For many, the building-block puzzle was among the first video games they played. For me, it may not have been the very first video game I played, but it is certainly the first that I remember playing. I must have been 6 or 7 when I was introduced to it by my Uncle José in Venezuela, but I found myself instantly hooked, mesmerized by the falling blocks and playing until either my hands grew numb, or my family dragged me away from the NES.

Back in London a couple of years later, to my utter delight, my parents saved up their pennies to buy me a Game Boy for my birthday, including a bunch of games – but there was only one that I wanted to play, of course: Tetris. 

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have shared similarly fond memories of Tetris with me over the years, and part of its lasting appeal – for folks of all ages, it seems – is no doubt down to the effortless simplicity of its underlying concept, and the ruthless addictiveness of its gameplay.

It was developed and created by Alexey Pajitnov at the Moscow Academy of Science, on a Russian Elektronika 60. The device had no graphics capabilities, so Pajitnov created each of the pieces using text instead. Despite its limited graphics, he found that almost everyone who played it loved it, and soon, he found that unauthorized versions had already been created in other countries.

Desperate to share it with the whole world – but concerned that any attempt to do so would fall foul of Soviet authorities at the height of the Cold War – Pajitnov granted the rights for the game to the government. American company Spectrum HoloByte was one of the first to produce an international version, with Tetris becoming one of the first games to be exported out of the Soviet Union.

Henk Rogers (L) and his friend, Alexey Pajitnov (R), creator of Tetris

But it was Henk Rogers who made the game the global success that we know today. While visiting CES in Las Vegas in 1988, he encountered it and was instantly addicted to it. He flew to Moscow to negotiate with authorities there to see if he could secure full international rights to distribute the game. He succeeded, and worked with Nintendo to ensure that the company got exclusive rights for Tetris on games consoles.

In 1989, the game launched on the Nintendo GameBoy, and it soon became one of the most popular games ever released. Since then, virtually every console and OS has seen an official (or unofficial) release of Tetris, including well over 100 million copies on mobile phones alone.

Tetris: the next generation

Rogers set up The Tetris Company in 1996 to exclusively license the rights to the game from Alexey Pajitnov, with whom he had become good friends back in Moscow, and to whom the rights had returned that year. The Tetris Company announced earlier this year that it had secured deals to bring Tetris to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, ensuring that a new generation of gamers will continue to enjoy the game.

Today, June 6, 2014, is World Tetris Day, and while it also marks the 30th birthday of a game that many consider one of the very best of all time, we have a feeling that we’ll be celebrating its birthdays for many, many more years to come. 

We'd love to hear of your Tetris memories, and any thoughts you may have on the game. Did you play it as a kid? Have you never played it before? Do you think it's a bit overrated? Or do you love it as much as we do? Share your comments below!

Image credits: 1) Wikipedia (Damian Yerrick / © Elorg/Nintendo); 2) Wikipedia (CountingPine / © Nintendo/Bullet Proof Software); 3) ASPEB; 4) EuroGamer.net 

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Softbank debuts Pepper, a humanoid robot that can understand emotions

Next Story

TechSpot: Crucial MX100 Review - Fast and Affordable SSD


Commenting is disabled on this article.

My favorite was the original GameBoy version. my top score on that is 362,588 (which i got on July 18th 2010).

Well... technically, i got that score on a 'Gameboy Advance SP' but it's got the original gameboy cartridge in it.

i actually took a screenshot of it with my digital camera ;)

p.s. i actually sold my original gameboy back around early-to-mid 1990's (i want to say 1995 off the top of my head) along with the Tetris (and other games) i was using at that time. but i eventually got a hold of a used gameboy advance sp and then went on Ebay and found a used original gameboy tetris cartridge and then i went to work trying to get higher scores. but i can tell looking at my old days scores vs the more recent ones i must have gotten better at that game overall as back in the old days most of the scores in my top 10 where in the 1xx,xxx ranges with a little in the 2xx,xxx ranges and i think one might have been 3xx,xxx (i probably have the list from the old days on my PC somewhere) but that was a fluke back then and i know it was lower than the one i posted above. but basically after i start playing tetris for a while it's not to hard for me to get into the 2xx,xxx ranges where as back then i could not do it as easily. but in general you always start on Level 9 and generally try to go for 4 lines at a time as once you hit 100 lines it changes to level 10 and then each 10 lines after that goes up a level and tops out at level 20 (which is basically 200 lines) and stays there.

here is my current Top 10 scores...

01. 362,588 (7-18-10) (Under Level 20?)
02. 350,317 (5-30-10) (Level 20 , 202 Lines)
03. 344,074 (5-30-10) (Level 18. Maybe 19-ish?)
04. 342,066 (6-9-10)
05. 328,296 (i am pretty sure this score was set back in the day on the original gameboy i sold but i did not have a date for this)
06. 325,425 (7-4-12) (Level 20, 200 Lines (or so))
07. 322,052 (4-21-10)
08. 318,367 (4-21-10)
09. 316,608 (8-4-10) (Level 19 , 198 Lines)
10. 316,276 (4-20-10)

i have not played it in a while though as getting into the 3xx,xxx range is not easy for me as it usually takes a while playing it before my scores start to climb back up but i can usually crack into the 1xx,xxx ranges without too much effort (assuming the game does not screw me and not give me a line here and there lol).

but basically at level 20 (and probably a fair amount of levels lower than this) your hand speed becomes a issue basically as the blocks fall pretty fast but my mind can mostly keep up but your hand speed slips a little bit and your pretty much done which is why, at least for me, it's best to get my score as high as possible before the level gets to high as then hand speed becomes more of a limiting factor.

p.s. side note: Steve Wozniak's (the guy tied to Apple) best score apparently is... 546,145

Edited by ThaCrip, Jun 6 2014, 8:00am :

Pluto is a Planet said,
I designed a version myself :D Check it out here: http://bit.ly/tetris5

I just went ahead and played it for 30 minutes. I have not played tetris for 20 years!!!

What a good game. I think I can be much better at it then when I was 10, LOL.