This year marks the 35th anniversary of one of the most iconic and addictive video games: Tetris!
The game, in which players race to fit geometric puzzle pieces together as they fall from the top of the screen, was developed in 1984 by a Russian software engineer named Alexey Pajitnov.
Pajitnov was programming computer games that tested the capabilities of new equipment developed by the USSR, according to tetris.com, and in his spare time he decided to create a computer game for himself that drew inspiration from his favorite puzzle board game, Pentominos.
Pajitnov called his game Tetris, which is a combination of tetra, the Greek word meaning four — each of the puzzle pieces is made up of four squares — and tennis, his favorite sport. The puzzle pieces in the game are called Tetriminos.
Though invented in 1984, it took a few years for the game to assume the popularity it now enjoys. In 1985, it quickly spread throughout the Soviet Union when it was ported to an IBM PC, according to a story in Business Insider, and then was distributed to PCs in North America and Europe two years later.
The game went through a variety of legal battles as companies — Nintendo and Atari, in particular — competed for the rights. In 1988, courts ruled that Nintendo had the rights to distribute it on home consoles, though lawsuits continued for years, according to the article.
When the game became available on Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy, however, it truly took off, selling more than 35 million copies.
Overall, according to the 2014 Business Insider story, Tetris has become one of the top-selling video games of all time: Released on more than 50 platforms, it has been translated into more than 50 languages. Tetris is played in more than 185 countries. It’s sold more than 170 million copies.