Alexey Pajitnov

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Alexey Pajitnov
Alexey Pajitnov - 2575833305 (crop).jpg
Pajitnov in Barcelona, Spain in
June 2008
Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov

(1955-04-16) 16 April 1955 (age 67)[1]
NationalitySoviet, later American
Alma materMoscow Aviation Institute (M.S., Applied Mathematics)
Known forDeveloper of Tetris
AwardsGame Developers Choice Awards First Penguin Award
LARA - Der Deutsche Games Award

Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov[a] (born 16 April 1955) is a Russian-American video game designer and computer engineer. He is best known for creating and designing Tetris in 1984 while working for the Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, a Soviet government-founded R&D center.

He only started to get royalties from his creation in 1996 when he and Henk Rogers formed The Tetris Company.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Pajitnov was born to parents who were both writers; his father was a critic of the arts, and his mother was a journalist who wrote for both newspapers and a film magazine. It was through his parents that Pajitnov gained exposure to the arts, eventually developing a passion for cinema. He accompanied his mother to many film screenings, including the Moscow Film Festival.[3]: 296[4]: 75 Pajitnov was also mathematically inclined, enjoying puzzles and problem solving.

In 1967, when he was 11 years old, Pajitnov's parents divorced. For several years, he lived with his mother in a one-bedroom apartment owned by the state. The two were eventually able to move into a private apartment at 49 Gersten Street, when Pajitnov was 17.[3]: 296[5] He later went on to study applied mathematics at the Moscow Aviation Institute.[6][7]


In 1977, Pajitnov worked as a summer intern at the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Once he graduated in 1979, he accepted a job there working on speech recognition at the Academy's Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre.[8]: 86  When the Computing Centre received new equipment, its researchers would write a small program for it in order to test its computing capabilities. According to Pajitnov, this "became [his] excuse for making games".[9] Computer games were fascinating to him because they offered a way to bridge the gap between logic and emotion, and Pajitnov held interests in both mathematics and puzzles, as well as the psychology of computing.[4]: 76

Searching for inspiration, Pajitnov recalled his childhood memories of playing pentominoes, a game where you create pictures using its shapes. Remembering the difficulty he had in putting the pieces back into their box, Pajitnov felt inspired to create a game based on that concept.[10][11] Using an Electronika 60 in the Computing Centre, he began working on what would become the first version of Tetris. Building the first prototype in two weeks,[11] Pajitnov spent longer playtesting and adding to the game, finally completing it on June 6, 1984.[12][13] This primitive version did not have levels nor a scoring system, but Pajitnov knew he had a potentially great game, since he couldn't stop playing it at work.[10][14] The game attracted the interest of coworkers like fellow programmer Dmitri Pevlovsky, who helped Pajitnov connect with Vadim Gerasimov, a 16-year-old intern at the Soviet Academy. Pajitnov wanted to make a color version of Tetris for the IBM Personal Computer, and enlisted the intern to help. Gerasimov created the PC version in less than three weeks, and with contributions from Pevlovsky, spent an additional month adding new features like scorekeeping and sound effects.[3]: 300[4]: 78 The game, first available in the Soviet Union, appeared in the West in 1986.

Pajitnov also created a sequel to Tetris, entitled Welltris, which has the same principle, but in a three-dimensional environment where the player sees the playing area from above.[15] Tetris was licensed and managed by Soviet company ELORG, which had a monopoly on the import and export of computer hardware and software in the Soviet Union, and advertised 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 later, in 1996, founded The Tetris Company with Henk Rogers, which finally allowed him to collect royalties from his game. He helped design the puzzles in the Super NES versions of Yoshi's Cookie and designed the game Pandora's Box, which incorporates more traditional jigsaw-style puzzles. Pajitnov and Pokhilko founded the 3D software technology company AnimaTek, which developed the game / screensaver El-Fish. [16]

He was employed by Microsoft from October 1996 until 2005. While there, he worked on the Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection, MSN Mind Aerobics and MSN Games groups. Pajitnov's new, enhanced version of Hexic, Hexic HD, was included with every new Xbox 360 Premium package.

On 18 August 2005, WildSnake Software announced that Pajitnov would be collaborating with them to release a new line of puzzle games.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Pajitnov resides in Clyde Hill, Washington.[18] He has a wife, Nina, and two sons named Peter and Dmitri.[5][19] Dmitri died in a skiing accident on Mount Rainier in 2017.[18][20]


Title Year Platform(s) Role(s)
Tetris 1984 Electronika 60, IBM-PC Original concept
(with Vadim Gerasimov & Dmitry Pavlovsky)
Welltris 1989 Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, Macintosh & ZX Spectrum Designer
(with Andrei Sgenov)
Faces 1990 Amiga, DOS, Macintosh Original concept
(with Vladimir Pokhilko)
Hatris 1990 TurboGrafx-16, Arcade, Game Boy & NES Original concept
Knight Move 1990 Famicom Disk System (Japan) Idealist
Wordtris 1991 DOS, Game Boy, Classic Mac OS, SNES Designer
El-Fish 1993 DOS Original concept
(with Vladimir Pokhilko)
Knight Moves 1995 Windows Idealist
Ice & Fire 1995 Windows, Macintosh Original concept
(with Vladimir Pokhilko)
Tetrisphere 1997 Nintendo 64 Contributor
Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection 1997 Windows & Game Boy Color Designer
Microsoft Pandora's Box 1999 Windows Designer
Microsoft A.I. Puzzler 2001 Windows Designer
Hexic 2003 Windows Original concept and design
Hexic HD 2005 Xbox 360 Original concept and design
Dwice 2006 Windows Designer
Hexic 2 2007 Xbox 360 Designer
Marbly 2013 iOS Original concept and design

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1996, GameSpot named him as the fourth most influential computer game developer of all time.[21]

On 7 March 2007, he received the Game Developers Choice Awards First Penguin Award. The award was given for pioneering the casual games market.[22]

On 24 June 2009, he received the honorary award at the LARA - Der Deutsche Games Award in Cologne, Germany.[23]

In 2012, IGN included Pajitnov on their list of 5 Memorable Video Game Industry One-Hit Wonders, calling him "the ultimate video game one-hit wonder."[24]

On 2015, Pajitnov won the Bizkaia Award at the Fun & Serious Game Festival.[25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russian: Алексей Леонидович Пажитнов, IPA: [ɐlʲɪkˈsʲej lʲɪɐˈnʲidəvʲɪtɕ ˈpaʐɨtnəf].


  1. ^ "Corporate Bio". Tetris. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  2. ^ "Tetris: a history". Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  3. ^ a b c Sheff, David (1993). Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children (1st ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 9780679404699.
  4. ^ a b c Goldberg, Harold (2011). All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 9780307463555.
  5. ^ a b Ackerman, Dan (2016). "Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov". The Tetris Effect: The Game that Hypnotized the World (1st ed.). New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 9781610396127.
  6. ^ "Alexey Pajitnov, Creator of Tetris". tetris holding. Retrieved 2018-08-05. He received his Master's degree in Applied Mathematics from the Moscow Institute of Aviation
  7. ^ "History of Computers and Computing, Birth of the modern computer, Software history, Tetris of Alexey Pajitnov". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  8. ^ Ichbiah, Daniel (1997). "Tetris: l'infernal casse-tête qui venait du froid" [Tetris: the infernal puzzle that came from the cold]. La saga des jeux vidéo [The saga of video games] (in French) (1st ed.). Pocket. ISBN 9782266087636.
  9. ^ Hoad, Phil (2014-06-02). "Tetris: How We Made the Addictive Computer Game". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-06-03. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  10. ^ a b Romo, Vanessa (2019-06-06). "Happy Birthday, Tetris. 35 Years Later You're As Addictive And Tetromino-y As Ever". NPR. Archived from the original on 2019-06-07. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  11. ^ a b "Meet the men who built the only perfect video game: Tetris". Digital Trends. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  12. ^ Nutt, Christian (2010-06-28). "Alexey Pajitnov - Tetris: Past, Present, Future". Game Developer. Archived from the original on 2021-08-27. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  13. ^ Prisco, Jacopo (2019-10-31). "Tetris: The Soviet 'Mind Game' That Took Over the World". CNN. Archived from the original on 2019-11-01. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  14. ^ Johnson, Bobby (2009-06-01). "How Tetris Conquered the World, Block by Block". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-01-22. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  15. ^ "Screenshots from Welltris, retrieved 31-10-2007". Archived from the original on 2006-04-22. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
  16. ^ Marc Saltzman, ed. (1 May 2002). Game Programming 5.0 Starter Kit. Pearson Education. p. 431. ISBN 978-1-57595-555-1. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  17. ^ "WildSnake newsletter 18 August 2005, retrieved 31-10-2007". 2005-08-18. Archived from the original on 12 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
  18. ^ a b "Dmitri Pajitnov — In Memoriam, retrieved February 9, 2018".
  19. ^ Marriott, Michel (1999-09-16). "Creator of Tetris Looks for New Ways to Dazzle and Beguile". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  20. ^ "Skier identified after body was missing for a month on Mount Rainier, retrieved Feb 9, 2018". The News Tribune. 2017-08-22.
  21. ^ "The Most Influential People in Gaming of All Time: Alexey Pajitnov". GameSpot. CNET Networks. 2005-02-21. Archived from the original on 21 February 2005. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  22. ^ "2007 Game Developers Choice Awards To Honor Miyamoto, Pajitnov". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 7 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  23. ^ "News report on Deutsche Games Award 2009". Archived from the original on 26 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
  24. ^ Reilly, Luke. "5 Memorable Video Game Industry One-Hit Wonders - Games Feature at IGN". IGN. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  25. ^ "F&S 2015 BIZKAIA AWARD".
  26. ^ "El inventor del Tetris desvela su exito". Retrieved 8 July 2019.

External links[edit]