Rubik, an architect and design professor based in Budapest, originally created his iconic cube to help his undergraduate design students think geometrically, but this simple yet notoriously difficult puzzle has become the world’s best-selling toy. More than four hundred million have been sold, as well as millions more illegal knockoffs. An elegant interior mechanism allows for 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible positions; the toy comes without instructions, but the goal seems universally intuited by anyone who picks it up. It appeals to an innate desire to create order from chaos, for children and adults alike.
Gallery label from Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000, July 29–November 5, 2012.