Tetris is 40 years old: how the creation of a Soviet programmer came to the USA and conquered the whole world - ForumDaily
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Tetris is 40 years old: how the creation of a Soviet programmer came to the USA and conquered the whole world

The cult game, variants of which are still popular today, was born on June 6, 1984. The young programmer Alexey Pajitnov came up with it... out of boredom: its first version was very simple, written for the Elektronika-60 computer in Pascal. Since computers were very rare in the USSR at that time, the first Tetris served as entertainment for programmers who passed the toy on, as they say, copying it from hand to hand onto their devices. However, a simple game, built on the principle of the polyominoes puzzle, was destined to come to the West, become famous throughout the world and even become an exhibit in the US Library of Congress, writes Air force.

Photo: iStock.com/jakubrupa

There is no point in describing “Tetris”: everyone has probably at least once tried to put together a “wall” of geometric shapes consisting of four squares randomly connected.

For five years, Soviet programmers had fun placing squares in rows on the screen, and in the meantime, a toy from the USSR ended up in the countries of the socialist camp. In 1989, American programmer Henk Rogers, who came to Hungary on business, saw Tetris and realized that this simple puzzle had great commercial potential.

However, this required two conditions. The first is to release the game on portable handheld devices, the second is to obtain official permission from the developer.

And Hank Rogers went to perestroika Moscow at his own risk.

“The trip was completely crazy,” Rogers recalled in 2011.

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The gloomy winter city, the hotel where the TV did not work, shocked the American imagination. Not knowing the language, he hired a translator, who, in addition, drove him around Moscow in her car. However, when they arrived at Elektronorgtekh (a department involved in the export and import of equipment and software), the translator refused to go there with Rogers.

The persistent American finally got inside and was able to explain, almost in his fingers, why he was here. There was a commotion, Alexei Pajitnov was immediately taken to a meeting with Rogers, and along with the Soviet programmer a fairly large group of people came, most of whom served in a well-known department. We spent a long time figuring out what the persistent American needed, figuring out what “video game copyrights” were. In the end, Rogers put the pressure on Soviet officials, and a week later the agreement was signed. The conditions were, according to Soviet standards, unprecedented: the author of the game received a personal share of the profits from all sales abroad.

“He (Rogers) became the first businessman who made a good impression on me personally,” Pajitnov recalled about him. “He really understood the game.”

Rogers himself said that this game fascinated him because, unlike the “adventure shooter” games that were gaining popularity, built on destruction, “Tetris” invited players to get involved in the process of creation: “People want to build something, it helps them feel better.” feel".

The first commercial version of the game was released in 1987, but at first Pajitnov had problems collecting royalties. As a result, in the mid-1990s, the programmer moved to the United States, became Rogers’ business partner and now lives in Washington.

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In 2007, Tetris was one of the ten most famous computer games and became an exhibit at the US Library of Congress museum.

15 interesting facts about Tetris

They were collected by the publication "Cybersport".

  1. The game took second place in the competition of Soviet game programs in Zelenograd. Nobody got the first one - the organizers decided that all the candidates were not good enough.
  2. Pajitnov worked at the Computing Center of the USSR Academy of Sciences on the problems of artificial intelligence for speech recognition and planned to use puzzles to test the performance of AI.
  3. Tetris appeared thanks to the low power of Soviet computers. Initially, Pajitnov wanted to create an electronic version of Pentamino, but Elektronika-60 could not cope with figures of five blocks, and he had to switch to figures of four blocks.
  4. The first color version of Tetris for MS-DOS was made by 16-year-old schoolboy Vadim Gerasimov, together with Pajitnov and Pavlovsky. The guy added a score counter to the game, debugged the screen, and also translated the game into English. In this version he was listed as the second author.
  5. Gerasimov received nothing for his work on Tetris. He claims that Alexey Pajitnov specifically removed him from the list of creators, persuading him to sign a paper that deprived him of any copyrights to the game. Vadim now lives in Australia and works as an engineer at Google.
  6. Tetris made the Game Boy the most popular handheld console of its time and allowed Nintendo to capture the handheld console market. In total, more than 35 million game cartridges were sold for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color.
  7. Nintendo earned $80 million from sales of Tetris cartridges alone. But many analysts believe that a significant percentage of the several billion dollars the company received from sales of the Game Boy and Game Boy Color should be added to this amount. As Henk Rogers said, “If you want to sell a Game Boy to little boys, package it with Mario. But put Tetris in there and you'll sell GameBoys to everyone."
  8. Tetris was the first video game to go into space. In 1993, cosmonaut Alexander Serebrov went to the Mir station with a Game Boy on which a puzzle was installed. The portable console spent 196 days in space and made more than 3000 orbits around the Earth.
  9. Tetris was played on a screen measuring 11 thousand square meters. m. In 2014, the game was projected onto the 29-story Cira Center building in Philadelphia. The players had to position themselves more than 2,5 km away.
  10. Tetris helps in the fight against stress. According to research by psychologists, Pajitnov’s puzzle is an ideal way to enter a state of flow, distract from problems and reduce psychological stress. Doctors recommend using the game to combat post-traumatic syndrome.
  11. “Tetris” was included in the Guinness Book of Records in the category “Longest prison sentence due to a computer game.” Briton Faze Chopdat served four months in prison because he ignored the demands of flight attendants and continued to play Tetris during the flight.
  12. Tetris is the most popular video game in history. According to The Tetris Company, more than 520 million copies of various versions of the game have been sold over the entire period. In second place is Minecraft with 238 million copies, and in third is Grand Theft Auto V with 178 million copies.
  13. Tetris is played using telepathy. In 2018, Neuralink developed BrainNet technology, which allows people to exchange information using thoughts. To demonstrate its capabilities, “Tetris” was used - a person who played the game did not see the screen and received “telepathic” tips from two others on where to move the pieces.
  14. Tetris is a popular eSports discipline. The most famous and respected tournament is the Classic Tetris World Championship, which has been held annually in the USA since 2010.
  15. In psychology and medicine there is the so-called “Tetris” effect or “Tetris” syndrome. The essence of this psychological phenomenon is that a person, immersed in a certain activity for a long time, changes his perception of the world around him. This syndrome was originally discovered in people who played Tetris for a long time. They began to see pieces from the game everywhere and wanted to organize everything around them.

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