Tetris is a computer game involving a sequence of falling tetromino pieces which the user must first revolve into a desired position and subsequently pack into an increasingly dense rectangular array.
As gameplay progresses, filled horizontal rows on the gameboard are cleared, allowing pieces above that row to drop by the height of one square. Gameplay stops when the next piece can no longer successfully enter the congested playing field.
Tetris was developed in the Soviet Union, circa 1985-6, by Alexey Pajitnov, Dima Pavlovsky, and Vadim Gerasimov.
Tetris originated in Russia around 1985 and was never patented, at the time intellectual property rights were not established in then communist Russia for private individuals.
June 1985 Inspired by a pentominoes game he had bought earlier, Alexey Pazhitnov creates Tetris on an Electronica 60 at the Moscow Academy of Science's Computer Center. It is ported to the IBM PC by Vadim Gerasimov and starts spreading around Moscow. Pazhitnov gets a small degree of fame for his program.
January 1988 Tetris is released for all home computers. It gets glowing reviews and sells quickly in computer stores. Stein's plan to "steal" the rights to Tetris is foiled when the CBS Evening News interviews Pazhitnov as the inventor of the game. A new company, ELORG (Electronorgtechinca), takes over the negotiations with Stein.
July 1989 Nintendo's version of Tetris for the NES is released. About three million are sold in the US. At the same time, the Game Boy, with Tetris as the pack-in, is being sold. America gets Tetrisized.
As for the Russians, no one made big money from Tetris except for the Soviet government. As the USSR broke up, the people at ELORG and the Academy scattered across the country.
Alexey Pazhitnov made nearly no money from Tetris itself. ELORG made, then cancelled a deal that would have given him merchandising rights to Tetris. Still, Pazhitnov was happy that the game he created became famous world-wide, and he did get an 286-clone from the Academy as a reward; he also had a much nicer apartment than most of his colleagues. In 1996, with the financial backing of Henk Rogers, he organized The Tetris Company LLC, and is now finally getting royalties for his creation.
Thursday 25 April 1996
Honolulu, April 25 - All rights to Tetris, the best selling computer game ever, are now exclusively held by a new company that will allow its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, to finally receive the royalties he was denied for ten years under Soviet-era licensing agreements covering the game.
In an historic deal, Henk Rogers, the entrepreneur responsible for popularising Tetris on Nintendo Game Boy systems, convinced Mr Pajitnov and Electronorgtechnica, or "Elorg," the now privatised Soviet Ministry of Software and Hardware Export, to join him in a new joint venture called The Tetris Company.
Tetris is a popular game developed in 1985-86 by Alexey Pajitnov (Pazhitnov), Dmitry Pavlovsky, and me. Pajitnov and Pavlovsky were computer engineers at the Computer Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. I was a 16-year-old high school student. My computer science teacher Arkady Borkovsky brought me to the Computer Center of the Soviet Academy of Sciences where I worked and played with IBM PCs. I quickly learned programming and enjoyed working on various fun computer projects. ...
Also see: Tetrinet for multiplayer client/server Tetris on the Internet today.