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Tetris is a computer game, with which one must in such a way turn falling down, always components consisting of four parts that they form a wall if possible without gaps. Therefore also the name agitates Tetris, which is a derivative of the Greek word for four, "tetra". As soon as a set of stones is complete, it is removed. The play ends, as soon as the not diminished components up to the upper edge of playing field up-piled up themselves. The longer one this condition to delay can, the more points receives one. The play principle follows the Russian play "board play "Pentamino; in contrast to this Tetris possesses however only 5, Pentamino 12 forms.

Tetris is considered in the meantime as genuine classical authors and is since then, as hardly another play, in many versions and variations for almost any system appeared. Most well-known is probable the version for the portable play console Game Boy of Nintendo, since the first Game Boys was available only with Tetris. Among other things Tetris plays appeared also of the manufacturers Atari, THQ and Nintendo for different stationary play consoles. Tetris was contained inclusive reference to Alexey Pajitnov and Wadim Gerasimow in the first Microsoft Windows Entertainment Package. The Windowsversion is of Dave Edson. Also Unix Desktop Environments such as gnomes or KDE contains Tetris clones. Even for editors such as Emacs or Vim there are appropriate imitations. Tetris ranks among the computer games copied usually by foreign manufacturers at all (alone for the Commodore there are 64 over 100 variants of the play).


Idea and success in the Eastern Bloc

The Russian Alexey Pajitnov, at the time with the computer center of the Soviet capital at that time Moscow employed, came in spring 1985 on the idea, the puzzle play Pentamino, which he could do and very much might from his childhood have converted into a computer game. The first version, developed by Pajitnov on its Electronica 60 and still without sound and color, was soon finished, pulled however gradually the whole staff into its spell. Wadim Gerasimow portierte it short time later on a IBM-PC. In the summer 1985 developed the first color version, which passed Pajitnov on then also outward. The play was further-copied always and spread fast in the Soviet Union and afterwards generally speaking Eastern Bloc. Since the concepts of mental property and the sales of rights were not yet usual there, nobody came on the idea to try from it a business to make.

First sales in the west

Hungary was quite successful at the time with the export of puzzle plays and computer technology, so that the businessman became there Robert stone of Andromeda software for the first time on Tetris attentive. Its inquiry with the computer center was however emotionless taken up, since one took Tetris there a little seriously. Stone one answered offer however with stating of interest. Since informal agreements were usual in the software industry, this regarded the answer as promise. It took up contact with Mirrorsoft, the software wing of Maxwell corporation, which was 1986 a large British Medienimperium. Also with Mirrorsoft the play found to large resemblance. Stone succeeded besides the sales at Spectrum Holobyte in California.

Fight for the video game license

When however the first version appeared on the market, stone received a telex from Elorg, of one in Moscow resident state company, which was responsible for the central marketing of Soviet program products. This avowed it that the rights had been never assigned. Stone succeeded however with an attendance in Moscow to receive the rights for personnel computer.

The large play market was at that time however with the play consoles, so that Mirrorsoft with Atari took up contact to produce a version for these. However one was not conscious itself that one at all did not possess the rights for this equipment kind. Henk Rogers of Bullet Proof software discovered the play with a computer fair on the conditions of Atari and brought it to Japan to Nintendo, where one began with the development of its own version and sold it. One wanted to settle Tetris during the introduction on the market of the again developed Game Boy. Henk Rogers should secure therefore fast the rights. Robert stone had already clarified, wanted the rights to a large extent with Mirrorsoft Rogers however as a potenziellen customer for other software to keep.

Although the play successfully sold itself, the royalty payments in the utilization chain remained hanging, so that Elorg never received the agreed upon payments from Andromeda software. Nikolai Belikov examined the case with Elorg on behalf the Soviet government. The affair became increasingly a Politikum, since the boss was Maxwell corporation, Robert Maxwell, one of the richest men of the world and good contacts to Gorbachev had.

Since one did not pay, the further negotiations remained putting. Rogers felt delayed by stone and flew even to Moscow. Also stone was in Moscow, and Mirrorsoft had sent secretly Kevin Maxwell, to the son from Robert Maxwell, in order to secure itself the rights. While the two dates had with Elorg, Rogers appeared unprepared and unexpected in Moscow. Thus it resulted that all three appeared on the same day with Elorg, whereby one avoided however that they met. Rogers was first and showed Belikov the Japanese Tetris version, which was with Atari and thus indirectly with Robert stone licensed. It turned out that the rights had not been assigned for this at all stone. Rogers was shocked, offered however its good contacts with Nintendo. Stone was the second visitor of the daily and had hoped, it can further rights at Tetris secure itself, saw themselves confronted then however because of the license excesses and being missing payments only with reproaches. Maxwell appeared as the third and broke the negotiations off fast, since the license offences were unknown to it up to then and it had to hold first consultation.

Belikov succeeded it by skillful negotiation tactics to limit the rights for stone precisely on certain devices without this was aware of its - finally the new contract specified to a large extent the anyway already final rights. Rogers had made friends itself meanwhile with Pajitnov. Since Maxwell besides arrogantly arose, Elorg decided to assign the Handheld rights at Rogers. With Nintendo one wanted to secure also the console rights and flew themselves secretly to Moscow and locked there a contract with Elorg, which specified an amount of 500.000 US Dollar plus 0,50 US Dollar per copy.

Political pressure

When one became conscious with Maxwell that one had not received the rights, one was furious and threatened to 23. March 1989 in a telex at Belikov to exercise with Gorbachev personally with its state visit in Great Britain pressure. Belikov was pressurized also by Soviet side, but the changed situation by the Perestroika did not have the fatal effects for him, which it would have had to expect still few years before.

Disaster for Atari and Maxwell

For Atari the affair developed to a disaster and a one of the reasons for the fall of the company. One had already invested millions in development and marketing, when Nintendo informed her of the fact that they would not have the video game rights. They instituted legal proceedings against Nintendo, with which Belikov should state as a witness. This was quoted before its takeoff before a national committee, where one threatened him to make him responsible for all losses which would develop for the Soviet Union, if Atari won the process. In November 1989 the decision fell in favor of Nintendo. Atari had to destroy hundredthousands of cartridges in their camps. In addition, the unprofessionelle procedure in the thing had still longer-range effects. For Maxwell corporation became the affair partially a still much larger disaster. On 5 November 1991 Robert Maxwell disappeared without trace from his yacht. It turned out that the company was highly indebted and was missing 414 million British Pound in their pension funds.

Nintendo and Pajitnovs largest success

For Nintendo Tetris became a large success. They sold 8 million copies for Nintendo Entertainment system. The Game Boy became also by the Tetris contained in the scope of supply a success and sold themselves altogether 17 million time.

Alexey Pajitnov received however nothing from the paid funds and decided to 1991 to emigrate into the USA and to develop in Seattle a company. Since 1996 he works for Microsoft. The originally assigned rights ran out likewise 1996, so that it contained off there also money for the play developed by it. However the profits constituted at this time only a fraction in the preceding years of the paid sums.

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