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Tetris (Тетрис) was originally designed and programmed by Alexey Pajitnov in June 1985, while working for the Dorodnicyn Computing Centre of the Academy of Science of the USSR in Moscow. The Soviet bureaucracy licensed and managed Tetris, and advertised it with the slogan “From Russia with Love” (on NES: “From Russia With Fun!”). Because he was employed by the Soviet government, Pajitnov did not receive royalties. Pajitnov, together with Vladimir Pokhilko, moved to the United States in 1991 and founded the Tetris Company with Henk Rogers.

Thanks to J who recently told me about the Soviet origins of tetris. I find this completely fascinating. She also made a reference to how it specifically addressed a thought-to-be feminine/ domestic psychology, but I haven’t been able to find out anything on this. This was what really got me hooked as we were talking about repetitive labour/ leisure activities – she had Tetris and I had needlepoint embroidery – which is also based on a grid system. Very curious.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard about the flourishing of leisure activities in Soviet Russia. Since time had no monetary value, there was space for people to develop rich interior lives. As my granny used to say, some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

(mental note – check out William Moskoff)

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