Now nearly 40 years old, the Tetris franchise has grown to be one of the largest video game franchises of all time. With well over 200 official Tetris releases, an incredible amount of merch and lifestyle products, movie adaptations, and even traveling to space, it has solidified itself as the classic video game.
I love Tetris's history, and the story of the early days is one of the best in the games industry. However, that's just a small slice of it's storied history, here's the rest, from my point of view.
The idea for Tetris is born.
Alexey develops the first version of Tetris on the Electronika 60 computer at the Academy of Sciences.
With the help of Vadim Gerasimov, an IBM PC port was developed. During the next two years Tetris spreads across the world.
Robert Stein is introduced to Tetris at SZTAKI in Hungary, and seeks out the license to distribute the game.
The first commercial versions of Tetris are released. Tetris for the C64 by Mirrorsoft, and Tetris for IBM PC by Spectrum HoloByte.
Atari Tetris, the introduction of Tetris to arcade goers.
Henk Rogers founder of BPS, sees Tetris at CES in Las Vegas. He gets a license to publish Tetris in Japan.
Tetris (BPS) was released on several computer platforms. It also made its way to word processors, PDAs and the Famicom. It was the first Tetris released in Japan.
Tetris (Sega) (sublicense from Atari) - This version was a huge hit in arcades. One arcade was still running ten Tetris cabinets four years after the game's release, and making 30,000¥ per day. In Taipai there is still an arcade with at least 9 machines, filled by a geriatric gamer crowd.
BPS publishes the first Tetris for consoles. Though later finds out no one had a license to publish Tetris on consoles, only computers.
Henk Rogers lands in Moscow to try and win the rights to Tetris for Game Boy
Alexey, Vladimir Pokhilko and Henk found Animatek, the company behind El-Fish
Howard Lincoln sends C&D to Atari for tetris
Tetris for Mega Drive is blocked from publishing by Nintendo. Only a few copies exist making it one of the rarest games in the world.
Atari sues Nintedo
Tetris Tengen for the NES, only for sale for 4 weeks when a preliminary injunction is issued
GB Tetris launched as a pack-in game for the Game Boy.
Nintendo wins the case against Atari and is seen as the rightful licensor of Tetris for consoles
NES Tetris, the classic version of the game that was once overshadowed by the Game Boy version, it is now one of the most watched versions of the game.
Nintendo World Championships 1990 featured three games. These three games were modified to work on a single cartridge. Both a grey and gold version exist, and are very limited.
Tetris 2 + Bombliss - Produced by Tsunekazu Ishihara (now president of The Pokémon Co) he was a huge Tetris fan and is credited with designing some of the puzzles in the game.
Belikov privatizes Elorg as the Soviet Union collapses
Alexey immigrates to the US
Tetris CD-i - The first Tetris released on optical media.
Super Tetris 2 + Bombliss
Tetris Battle Gaiden
Tetris becomes the first video game to be played in space
Super Tetris 3 - The first Tetris to have a 4 player mode.
Tetris & Dr. Mario
Henk Rogers, Alexey Pajitnov and Nikolai Belikov create The Tetris Company, Inc.
Henk Rogers founds Blue Planet Software, Inc., the sole agent for The Tetris Company, Inc.
Nikolai Belikov founds Games International, Inc. which owns 50% of The Tetris Company. The other 50% is owned by Blue Planet Software
Tetris introduces their new logo designed by Roger Dean. It first appears in Tetris 64, and Magical Tetris Challenge
Tetris Plus 2
Tetris The Grand Master - A master piece of a game, incredibly solid gameplay, fully featured versus mode, and still has a vibrant and strong community today.
Tetris DX the first game to feature 40 lines mode (Sprint mode)
Tetris 64 - This was the one and only game that worked with the Bio Sensor accessory.
Magical Tetris Challenge
The Next Tetris
The New Tetris
The first game to include hold, and invented the bag randomizer.
The first online multiplayer Tetris game is released, Sega Tetris
Shockwave Tetris is released, the first web based Tetris game.
Tetris with Cardcaptor Sakura Eternal Heart
Tetris The Absolute The Grand Master 2
SuperLite 1500 Series: The Tetris
The Next Tetris: On-Line Edition
Tetris Worlds the first game to implement the Tetris Guideline gameplay rules.
G-MODE releases the first Tetris game for mobile phones in Japan.
Henk Rogers founds Blue Lava Wireless and it becomes the exclusive licensee for Tetris on mobile devices.
Tetris for the WonderSwan
Tetris (Blue Lava Wireless) , with Deluxe and Casecade later in the year.
Com2uS releases Net Tetris for mobile phones in Korea.
BPS and Alexey sue Belikov for the remaining rights to Tetris and lose
Tetris The Grand Master 3 Terror-Instinct
The remaining rights to Tetris are bought from Belikov for $15 million who's share was 50%
Tetris DS (THQ) prevented by TTC to be released
JAMDAT Mobile aquires Blue Lava Wireless for $137 million, along with a 15 year exclusive world wide license for Tetris mobile phone games.
Minoru Arakawa (Former president of Nintendo of America), Henk, and Alexey found Tetris Online Japan, Inc. and soon after Tetris Online, Inc.
EA purchases JAMDAT for $680M, EA's biggest acquisition at the time.
Tetris Pop J2ME
Tetris Party released on WiiWare, and 2010 gets a physical release Tetris Party Deluxe
TGM4 announced by TGM producer Mihara at Amusement Machine Show
Tetris for the PSP, a downloadable game.
First CTWC, Jonas Neubauer takes the title defeating Harry Hong
Tetris for the PS3 available on the PlayStation Store
Tetris Holding, LLC v. Xio Interactive, Inc.
Puyo Puyo Tetris released in Japan
Maya Rogers, Henk's daughter becomes CEO of Blue Planet Software
Tetris movie announced Larry Kasanoff the man behind Foodfight! Source
Tetris enters the Video Game Hall of Fame
Tetris Twist, first HTML5 powered game
Tetris movie announced that it will be a trilogy. I question what they even did for the last two years. Pictured is co-producer Bruno Wu
Tetris MicroCard is finally released after being annouced in 2015
Puyo Puyo Tetris released outside of Japan
Tetris Journey, first foray into Chinese market?
Tetris 99, tetris battle royale
Tetris Royale, tetris battle royale... on your phone
Tetris Gems, a game with cascade mechanics
Tetris brand celebrates it's 35th anniversary
N3TWORK gets Tetris license
Tetris Dimensions, a redemption arcade game with gameplay similar to Tetris Gems. It did not do well in playtests and was never released
Tetris arcade ported by M2 for the Sega Mega Drive Mini
Tetris M1ND BEND3R a colab with Red Bull, first game to use the new logo
Tetris for mobile
EA's 15 year license ends a little early. Their mobile Tetris and Tetris Blitz games are delisted from app stores.
Tetris biopic announced unrelated to the other movie announcement from 2014
Tetris Clash, a mobile game where you can earn or lose money.
Blue Planet Software renames itself to Tetris
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2
Tetris Beat, first official Tetris game available on macs since 2007, though I'm not sure this would satisfy John Gruber
Playstudios aquires rights to mobile Tetris from N3twork
Tetris The Grand Master is released for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, 23 years after the canceled PS1 port was announced.
Game Boy Tetris is re-released on Nintendo Switch Online.
Tetris (2023) is released on Apple TV+