Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Origin of Tetris (unit 1)

I was playing Tetris the other day and discovered that the concept of Tetris actually originated in Soviet Russia. Tetris was created by Russian programmer and artificial intelligence researcher Alex E Pajitnov in 1986 who was working for the Society Academy for Sciences. His job was to test the limits of various hardwares by writing simple programs. He decided to code a puzzle game using tetriminos, shapes that are formed by putting four squares edge to edge in seven possible arrangements. As the game became more elaborate and addicting, Pajitnov began to think of the idea of selling the game for profit. Unfortunately, Soviet laws made it nearly impossible to make private sales of a product, so they ended up just giving the game out for free. After the game became somewhat well known in the Soviet Union he later managed to give the rights to the state. The rights were then loosely juggled around between various developers which soon made it hard to tell who actually owned it. Pajitnov was somehow able to reacquire the rights from the state who said that the rights were never given away. Pajitnov then sold the rights to Nintendo who immediately released it for the Gameboy, selling almost 35 million copies. Pajitnov eventually moved to America where he was able to finally make some money off the rights by founding the Tetris company, which got rid of all illegal Tetris clones. It was amazing how hard the Soviet Union’s regulations made it for Pajitnov to finally make some profit off his creation, even after he moved. Another detail I found interesting was how Pajitnov was extremely opposed to the soundtrack used for Tetris. The music was based off the Russian folk song Koobeihiki, which other developers liked because it showed the game’s origins. Pajitnov however was afraid that the song would come to lose its history and be known only as the Tetris song, a prophecy that has unfortunately come true.

                                                         Tetris creator Alex E Pajitnov

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