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Phil Yu on speedcubing and battling with Rubik’s
Rubik’s Cube, brainchild of the Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik, burst onto the toy scene in the late 1970’s. The puzzle — easy to pick up but hard to master — has since according to some measures become the world’s best-selling toy. True, it experienced a wane in the astonishing popularity it enjoyed in the decade after its debut, but since then a subculture of dedicated players has arisen. They have been responsible for the growth of Rubik’s solving into a competitive sport — speedcubing. For this week’s podcast, we spoke with Phil Yu. Yu is one of the leading speedcubers in the world — holding record-breaking times in one-handed solving — and the founder and operator of The Cubicle, a business dedicated to serving the needs of speedcubers worldwide through specialized products and video tutorials.
The story of his small company — a popular insurgent serving a well-established need in a market dominated by a single player — is the story of American innovation writ small. We talked with Phil about why the cube has been such a smash and what you can do to become a champion solver yourself (with a detour into his company’s fight with Rubik’s).