Birth of a compulsion #history

TetrisExcerpt from The PC Pioneers

On this day in 1988 the game Tetris was released and a new compulsion was born!

It was developed by Alexey Pajitnov and Dmitry Pavlovsky at the Soviet Academy of Science in Moscow – hence the sound track that came with it!

It set the user the challenge of neatly arranging a series of falling tetrominoes.  There were seven different types which were described as I, J, L, O, S, T and Z. The name Tetris is a contraction of the words tetromino and tennis.

As Tetris this game started life as a PC software game in 1984, but really took off when it was released for Nintendo’s hand-held game, Game Boy, in 1989.


At sixteen years of age, Vadim Gerasimov successfully ported Tetris to the IBM PC and this version somehow found its way via Budapest to Andromeda, a UK software publisher.

The licensing trail was something of a nightmare. Andromeda sold on the ‘rights’ to Spectrum HoloByte and they in turn released them in the USA; all this before Andromeda had finalised its deal with the authors.

In the meantime Pajitnov granted the rights to a Soviet organisation called Elektronorgtechnica but no deal had been effected before the game’s addictiveness had led to it being in broad distribution.

Despite this inauspicious background Tetris sold over 70 million copies across all platforms; following this it was released in 2005 as a mobile phone game that sold over 100 million copies in five years.

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