Tetris - The one of the most genius and popular computer games of all times! Such an addictive game that swept the world in the 1980s and 1990s, still continues to engage and captivate players today. Unlike the many other games developed during the early boom years of video game design, Tetris had no fancy images or memorable characters and no narrative.
It all started with a puzzle-loving software engineer Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov from Moscow, Russia. After graduating at Moscow Mathematical School Nr. 91 and Moscow Insitute of Aviation, he was hired as a programmer at the Computing Center of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, a Soviet government-founded research and development center where he worked in the field of artificial intelligence and speach recognition. That is also where he created Tetris in the 1984.
Pajitnov was interested in the field of computer games from the very beginning of his career and the Tetris was not the first game he crated. Initially he created several psychology-related games. He was inspired by a puzzle game called "pentominoes" in which different wooden shapes made of five equal squares are assembled in a box.
Pajitnov started to twiddle the shapes trying to imagine how to implement this game in computers. First he decided to cut off a piece from of the cubes, in order to simplify the shape of figures and thus to accelerate the computer processing. Then he created a simpler computer game, called Genetic Engineering, in which the player had to move the 4-square pieces (called tetramino) around the screen using cursor keys. The player could assemble various shapes. The game however was not very successful.
The breakthrough appeared when Pajitnov decided to drop the figures in a rectangular glass and pile them up at the bottom of the glass. Two weeks later, in the beginning of 1985, the first versionof the game was ready, written on Pascal language for Electronica 60 (Электроника 60 was a russian copy of DEC LSI-11 computer). Size of the game was around 2.7 KB (kilobytes).
The first Tetris ran in a MS-DOS text mode, using colored space symbols to represent squares of tetraminos. The game could even automatically recognize the IBM monochrome videocard, adjusting the way it drew on the screen. The last version of the game was one of the first to use proper timer delays, in order not to run too fast on the newer and faster machines, which almost all other games did back then.
The name of the game "Tetris" Pajitnov combined from 2 words: the name of the original game—"tetramino" and his favorite sport—"tennis".
Pajitnov was assisted in creation of Tetris by his colleague Dmitry Pavlovsky from the Institute and later by Vadim Gerasimov, a 16-year-old high school schoolboy, who worked and played with IBM PCs in the Computer Center. Gerasimov ported the game for the operating system MS DOS of IBM PC (using Borland's Turbo Pascal) and was in charge of graphical design.
They dreamed about selling the games, but this part seemed unusual and difficult in the communist Soviet Union, where making and selling something privately was a dangerous affair.
When all efforts to sell the games have failed, the group of Pajitnov decided to give friends free copies of all the games, including Tetris. Thus the games quickly spread around the country. When in 1986 the freely distributed PC version of Tetris got outside of the Soviet Union and a foreign company expressed an interest in licensing Tetris, Pajitnov decided to abandon all the games but Tetris, which made Pavlovsky very unhappy and destroyed the team.