Tetris was the first computer game that involved falling tetromino pieces that the game player must align in order to create an unbroken line which subsequently disappears in order to free up more game play space. If the player is unable to make an unbroken line, the game play space quickly gets crowded until the point where no more space is available and the game is over.
The game of Tetris was first programmed in 1985 in the former Soviet Union by Alexey Pazhitnov. It ran on a machine called an Electronica 60 but was quickly ported to run on an IBM PC in the same month of its initial release. One month later and the game had been ported for use on the Apple II and the Commodore 64 by a programming team in Hungary.
The game quickly saw interest from a software house in the UK, Andromeda, who released it in the UK and USA in 1986 although the original programmer Pazhitnov had not agreed to any sale or licensing agreement. Nonetheless, Anromeda managed to copyright licensing for the game and marketed Tetris as ‘The first game from behind the iron curtain’. Tetris was an instant smash hit and had thousands of people hooked.
A new company, ELORG, took up negotiations on behalf of Pazhitnov and eventually the licensing rights were granted to Nintendo in 1989 for a sum of between 3 and 5 million dollars. Nintendo quickly exerted their corporate strength and forbid any other company to market the game that Andromeda had given license to, including Atari. However, Tetris had become the biggest selling game on all formats at that time.
Today Tetris is still hugely popular, with versions running on all formats, and still managing to get people hooked through its simple yet addictive game play.