Tetris—a seemingly simple game based on arrangements of four-block shapes called tetraminoes, duplicated in 3D above—is the single best-selling computer game of all time.
Photograph by Aldo Gonzalez, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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    On June 6, 1984, Russian computer engineer Alexei Pajitnov released his popular computer game, Tetris. 
    Pajitnov was working as a research-and-development computer scientist in his hometown of Moscow, Russia, when he invented Tetris. He based his innovative computer game on one of his favorite (three-dimensional) games, polyominoes. Dominoes are the most familiar type of polyomino. Dominoes have two square blocks. All the shapes used in Tetris have different arrangements of four square blocks. In fact, Pajitnov named his game in part after the shapes: tetra means “four” in Greek. 
    Tetris is a seemingly simple game—create straight lines with the differently shaped polyominoes dropped with increasing speed from above. The game proved incredibly challenging, and immediately popular. 
    “Tetris, in two weeks, was in every single computer in Moscow!” Pajitnov remembers. 
    Tetris quickly migrated out of what was then the Soviet Union to Europe, Japan, and North America. Tetris remains the single best-selling computer game of all time, with more than 140 million games sold as computer software, with video-game consoles, or apps.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    computer engineer Noun

    person who designs and builds software or hardware.

    console Noun

    monitoring unit of a computer or other technology hub, often containing keyboards and other control devices.

    innovative Adjective

    new, advanced, or original.

    migrate Verb

    to move from one place or activity to another.

    polyomino Noun

    geometric figure formed by joining one or more squares edge-to-edge.

    software Noun

    electronic programs of code that tell computers what to do.

    Soviet Union Noun

    (1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.