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Tetris original download (removed as per request of Glenn D. Bellamy)

Colin Fahey's Tetris AI System

Tetris is NP-hard problem

Pushed past the brink

"Game Over" by David Sheff

Tetris: a history

Tetris Pressures Game Act-Alikes

The Tetris Company's Activities

Man jailed for plane Tetris game

Notice of Infringement (about this page) from Yahoo!


The Story

by Vadim Gerasimov

Tetris is a popular game developed in 1985-86 by Alexey Pajitnov (Pazhitnov), Dmitry Pavlovsky, and me. Pajitnov and Pavlovsky were computer engineers at the Computer Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. I was a 16-year-old high school student. My computer science teacher Arkady Borkovsky brought me to the Computer Center of the Soviet Academy of Sciences where I worked and played with IBM PCs. I quickly learned  programming and enjoyed working on various fun computer projects.

Pavlovsky noticed me when I was writing a directory encryption program for MS DOS. He told me that he liked computer games and had designed a few games himself for a mainframe computer. He asked me if I was interested in helping him to convert the games to the PC and to work together on new game ideas. I obviously was very interested. Pavlovsky showed me his games and gave the source code of one of them. The next day I made a PC version of his game. We started working together.

Very soon he introduced me to his friend Alexey Pajitnov who also was interested in making computer games. As I remember, Pavlovsky told me that Pajitnov had even managed to sell some of his psychology-related games. Pajitnov demoed his games for us; and we decided to work as a team. I was a PC expert, programmer, and a graphics designer in the team.

Our plan was to make about a dozen addictive computer games for the PC and put them together in one system we called a computer funfair. Pajitnov and Pavlovsky also thought about selling the games. The selling part seemed unusual and difficult because we lived in the Soviet Union: making something privately and selling it seemed highly irregular. We hoped that Pajitnov's previous experience would help. So, we concentrated on making game development tools for the PC, converting earlier games by Pavlovsky and Pajitnov to the PC, and developing new game ideas.

In a few weeks we had converted most of the worthy older games and developed a good set of libraries to support graphics (4-color 320x200), text, and sound in our games. We gathered quite often to discuss new ideas, and to code the games. In a couple of months we had a nice set of games.

A few months after we started working together Pajitnov came up with the Tetris idea. Before we met he had a computer game called Genetic Engineering. In that game the player had to move the 4-square pieces (tetramino) around the screen using cursor keys. The player could assemble various shapes out of tetraminos. I don't remember what the ultimate objective of the game was.

At one of our meetings Pajitnov told Pavlovsky and me about his new idea to make tetramino fall into a rectangular glass. He believed the game might be successful. Shortly after discussing the idea Pajitnov made a prototype for Electronica 60, then I ported it to the PC using our development system. Pajitnov and I kept adding features to the program for another year or so.

Later Pajitnov and I also developed a 2-player version of Tetris. In that version the glass had no bottom. The pieces for the first player move from the top, for the second - from the bottom. Two players competed for the space inside. There was a second image of the glass flipped vertically  for the second player.

Pajitnov's efforts to sell the games together failed. We gave our friends free copies of a couple of the games including Tetris. The games quickly spread around. When Tetris got outside of the Soviet Union and a foreign company expressed an interest in licensing Tetris, Pajitnov decided to abandon all the games but Tetris. The decision made Pavlovsky very unhappy and destroyed our team. Pajitnov registered a copyright for the PC version of Tetris to his name. You can read about the business side of  the Tetris story in the book "Game Over" by David Sheff.

Contrary to the claim at http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/2430/a-r1.html there were no "straightforward business arrangement" between Pajitnov and myself, and could not be. The story happened in the Soviet Union where people did not have right to intellectual property. And people did not have the right to make private business arrangements of this kind either. Everything we did, legally belonged to the Computer Center of Academy of Sciences. The idea to sell the games was hypothetical and informal. Several years later the situation with the Soviet Union changed, but this was a different story. When I worked on Tetris, even a government organization could not formally hire me because I was underage. I worked on Tetris just for fun. I don't remember Pajitnov ever paying me for anything related to Tetris either. What I do remember, though, is a paper Pajitnov asked me to sign a couple of years later when he and Henk Rogers participated in negotiations between Elorg (the only government organization in the USSR that could sell software abroad) and game companies. They also worked on registering copyrights. One day Pajitnov stopped by my apartment and told me that to get lots of money for us from the game companies he needs me to sign the paper right away. To my recollection, the paper was saying that I agree to only claim porting Tetris to the PC, agree to give Pajitnov the right to handle all business arrangements, and refuse any rewards related to Tetris. I trusted Pajitnov and signed the paper. He didn't give me a copy of the paper, though.

I am frequently asked about what I got paid for Tetris. Elorg gave me a 15" TV and a VCR. The Computer Center of Academy of Sciences paid me an equivalent of about $1000. That's it. I don't know exactly what Pajitnov or Pavlovsky got for Tetris.

Even though Tetris was probably the best of the games, three of us developed together, the other games were quite interesting too. Unfortunately most of those games have never been given out and are forgotten. The only two games from that period I have seen around are Pavlovsky's Antix and Doors.

Pajitnov moved to the USA in 1991. Pavlovsky lives in UK since 1990. I guess, they both still make computer games.

Alexey Pajitnov and Henk Rogers founded the Tetris Company. I have nothing to do with the company, and do not support its policy.

On October 22, 2003 I received the an interesting Notice of Infringement from Yahoo!


Tetris original download (removed as per request of Glenn D. Bellamy)

Colin Fahey's Tetris AI System

Tetris is NP-hard problem

Pushed past the brink

"Game Over" by David Sheff

Tetris: a history

Tetris Pressures Game Act-Alikes

The Tetris Company's Activities

Man jailed for plane Tetris game

Notice of Infringement (about this page) from Yahoo!