Tetris, an addictive brain-teasing video game, is shown as played on the Nintendo Entertainment System in New York City, June 1990.
Richard Drew—AP
By Francesca Trianni
June 6, 2014

On the 30th anniversary of Tetris’ creation, here’s a look at the Russian mastermind who made the world care about falling blocks.

TIME’s Editor Dan Stewart talks about Tetris’ inventor, Alexey Pajitnov, a Russian computer engineer who created the game in 1984 but struggled for decades to earn royalties from its ubiquitous success.

Pajitnov came up with a game so addictive that he once said he couldn’t stop playing long enough to finish programming it. “The program wasn’t complicated,” he said. “There was no scoring, no levels. But I started playing and I couldn’t stop.”

While Pajitnov is still programming games, Tetris remains his magnum opus.

 

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