The game of Tetris was created by Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov with some help from Dmitry Pavlovsky and Vadim Gerasimov. Vadim ported the game to an IBM computer, and it was released on June 6, 1984. Pajitnov named the game by linking it with his favorite sport, tennis. The word “Tetris” is derived from the Greek word “tetra” (the prefix) – because the pieces in the game are tetrominoes), and the latter word is “is” is taken from tennis.
How did the Soviet government own the rights of Tetris?
At the time of the release of the game, Pajitnov worked at the Dorodnicyn Computing Center. The center was a part of the Soviet government’s funded research center in Moscow, which was known as the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
Because Pajitnov was working with the government and was using their equipment for the production of Tetris, thus, the government retained all the rights of the game in the beginning, and no royalties were paid to Pajitnov.
The game was a huge success within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and it was being given away for free by the Union throughout the USSR and Eastern Europe. Thus, within a year of the game’s launch, it spread all across Western Europe, and then by 1987, it was all over in North America.
During the initial spread of the game, the Soviet Union set up a company to manage the licensing of the game throughout the world. Elorg (Elektronorgtechnica) – the managing company failed to an ultimate level in collecting any royalties. This happened due to the self-licensing of the game done by several companies without asking for the granted rights in the first place.
For example – The British Andromeda company started selling the licensing rights of the game while negotiating to get the official rights to sell it. After failing to acquire the licensed rights to sell the licensing rights of the game, they continued to sell the rights of the game in the same way.
What happened after the Soviet Union dissolved?
In 1991, when the Soviet Union was dissolved, Pajitnov moved to the United States. However, the Russian government maintained its licensing rights to Tetris. Eventually, in 1996, the official rights to the Tetris were given to Pajitov, who by then was working with Microsoft.
Then, finally, after 12 years, Pajitnov and Henk Rogers, his business partner – set up The Tetris Company and earned all the royalties for the game he created himself.
- The game was originally developed on an ELectronica 60 computer but eventually was ported to an IBM computer.
- It is shown in the studies that playing Tetris can increase the brain’s efficiency for certain tasks like reasoning, critical thinking, and also language processing.
- Pajitnov created a 3-D sequel of the game called Welltris.
- Tetrominoes are collectively called to four element polyominoes. These polyominoes are used in puzzle games for a century.