Alexey Pazhitnov - Inventor of Famed Tetris

Alexey Pazhitnov may not be a name you recognize immediately, but you will know of him from the computer game he developed while working for the Dorodnicyn Computing Centre of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, a Soviet government-founded R&D centre in Moscow. This popular game is called Tetris and is well-known throughout the world by its many users. The name of this computer game is derived from the Greek numerical prefix “tetra”, which means four because all the pieces are made up of four pieces.

Tetris was created in 1985 not only by Pazhitnov, but also with the help of Vadim Gerasimov and Dmitry Pavlovsky. The source of inspiration for this game came from pentominoes, which is a polyomino made up of five congruent squares that are linked orthogonally. All together there are twelve different pentominoes that are named after the letters from the Latin alphabet. Tetris is basically a falling block puzzle game, which is released onto a variety of platforms.

Firstly the game was made freely available in and around the Soviet Union, only reaching the West a year later in 1986. This game and its many varieties are provided with every computer operating system, video game console and other objects like graphing calculators, PDAs, mobile phones and iPods. Tetris is not contained within computers and electronics, but has even been used as part of an art exhibition at the Brown University. The game also gained popularity due to Nintendo using Tetris on its Game Boy system, giving it a lot more exposure. This can be seen by its ratings as one of the “greatest video games” of all time.

Pazhitnov also created Welltris a similar game in principle, but using only a three dimensional environment allowing you to see the board from above. Although Pazhitnov and his two companions were the ones to come up with Tetris, they did not receive royalties because Pazhitnov was employed by the Soviet Government. So it was the Soviet bureacracy that managed and licensed Tetris, advertising it with the words “From Russia with Love”. That is when Pazhitnov, Vladimir Pokhilko moved to the United States of America in 1991 and established the Tetris Company along with Henk Rogers.


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