Feeds

Happy Birthday Tetris: It's flipping 30

Soviet bloc blockbuster

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Antique Code Show Forget the oil, forget the gas – even forget the aggressive foreign policy. The commodity that granted Russia its modern day super-wealth is clearly Tetris, which clocks up its 30th birthday today.

Youtube Video

Poor old beardie Alexey Pajitnov – the title’s original designer and programmer – bashed out his first attempt on a Soviet Electronica 60 computer at the Russian Academy of Sciences, buried behind the Cold War communist curtain of 1984.

The following year, industrious 16 year-old student Vadim Gerasimov ported Tetris to the PC and, alongside Pajitnov, worked towards the final pre-commercial release. Friends outside of the academy were given copies and within a couple of weeks Tetris had spread to every computer across Moscow.

Yet Pajitnov, who’d spent many, many days perfecting his code – and allegedly smoked an inordinate number of cigarettes throughout the process – had to wait 10 full years before the Russian government would finally relinquish the game’s intellectual property back to him.

Transliterated titles were a popular way to communicate the foreign origin

Transliterated titles were a popular way to communicate the foreign origin

Well, if only the history of Tetris was as simple as that; it’s actually one of the most legally disputed videogames in existence. If Russia had been quicker to act, events may have been more straightforward.

However, it took until 1988 for the USSR to figure out exactly what videogame gold-dust it had on its hands. Consequently, a state-owned company called Elektronorgtechnica (ELORG for short) was established to negotiate publishing rights to third parties.

In the crucial few years beforehand, intrepid software houses scrabbled around Moscow attempting to gain an elusive, watertight third-party licence, planting the seed for what would become a huge mess of legal wrangling. Robert Stein, of British software house Andromeda, spotted the title’s potential after seeing unofficial ports to the Apple II and Commodore 64 in Hungary.

Another typically Russian scene on the Apple IIgs

Another typically Russian scene on the Apple IIgs

The agreement he attempted to make with Pajitnov himself led to a botched contract and subsequent miss-selling of rights to, amongst others, Robert Maxwell’s Mirrorsoft game publishing house, and its American equivalent, Spectrum Holobyte. These twin companies went on to release separate versions of the game, such was the fever to get Tetris out there.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Next page: Rights and wrongs

More from The Register

next story
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Trousers down for six of the best affordable Androids
Stylish Googlephones for not-so-deep pockets
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK
... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.