Tetris is Born

The Original TetrisJune 6, 1984

Alexey Pajitnov first releases the game Tetris in the USSR. Tetris will become one of the most popular puzzle video games of all time. Originally programmed for a Soviet-built Elektronika 60 computer, the game was soon ported to the IBM PC, where it spread quickly throughout Moscow and the rest of the USSR. Eventually making its way to Hungary, from there the game was discovered and questionable attempts to license it for sale by various software companies were made. By 1989, half a dozen different companies claimed rights to create and distribute the Tetris software for home computers, game consoles, and handheld systems. Several highly complex and drawn out legal battles ensued in the following years to settle who had the rightful licenses and authority to sell the Tetris game in various formats and countries around the world. Ironically, Pajitnov himself was not able to make any money on Tetris for years because as an employee for the Soviet government, the Soviet State ended up owning the rights. It was only when the rights reverted from the old Soviet government to Pajitnov and he moved to the US in 1996 that he was able to form a company and collect royalties. Then he went on to work for Microsoft … trading one oppressive regime for another it would seem!

  • Justin M. Salvato

    “Then he went on to work for Microsoft … trading one oppressive regime for another it would seem!” Wow, that’s a friggin stupid thing to say.

    • So then which entity would you say wasn’t an oppressive regime? The Soviet Union or Microsoft of the 1990s? Obviously this statement was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but in the technology industry, Microsoft wasn’t only a ruthless competitor, they treated their own partners and vendors in much the same way. Now it seems Microsoft is reaping what they sowed over those years. It seems few are shedding any real tears over the collapse of the once mighty company, just as few shed any tears when the Soviet Union fell.

      • Justin M. Salvato

        That “joke” would have been funny 12 or more years ago. Times have changed. Microsoft got spanked by lawsuits and have changed their policies. I’m just tired of the Microsoft hate. Was justified then, not now. And before you say, “well, I was talking of the Microsoft of that time, within that context…”, stop, cause I don’t want to read it. And to compare Microsoft to the Communist machine that was the U.S.S.R. is really nuts. I bet Pajitnov never felt more happy than when he came to the U.S. and got a job at Microsoft.

        • Obviously Microsoft was never a totalitarian government like the USSR, but the comparison within context of the article was meant to be humorous. I’m sorry you don’t like it, but this is a history blog and it was referencing “the evil empire” that was Microsoft.

          But this discussion really belongs elsewhere. I actually wrote an article on a different blog last year titled “Microsoft’s Perception Problem” that seems relevant to this topic, so feel free to read it and continue the discussion there.