The Cube was invented by Erno Rubik of Hungary in 1974, and he called it the "Magic Cube".
Was "A Simple Approach To The Magic Cube" by Bridget Last, published in 1980 by Tarquin Publications of Diss, Norfolk, the first Cube book published in England? Middle pictures - old Hungarian Magic Cubes occasionally turn up on eBay. There are fascinating differences in the look, weight and feel of the Magic Cube when compared to the Rubik's Cube. Far right - a magazine ad for the Hungarian Magic Cube from March 1981, dating to the time of the worldwide shortage of the new Rubik's Cubes.
The first test batches of the Magic Cube were finally released in Budapest, Hungary, then very much "behind the Iron Curtain", just before Christmas 1977. In 1978, the Cube started to become popular in Hungary. Small numbers of Magic Cubes passed beyond Hungarian borders, and there was growing interest amongst academics and puzzle fans lucky enough to encounter it in the Western World. But the vast majority of us remained ignorant of the puzzle's existence.
The Magic Cube debuted at the international toy fairs of London, Paris, Nuremberg and New York in January and February 1980, and was then re-manufactured to Western World safety standards and packaging norms. The new version was lighter and easier to manipulate.
Mathematician David Singmaster wrote:
... the Magic Cube is now being sold as Rubik's Cube... [the Ideal Toy Corp.] has renamed the cube as 'Rubik's Cube' on the grounds that 'magic' tends to be associated with magic.
The Rubik's Cube trademark was registered in England on 7 May 1980, but due to a shortage, supplies did not start arriving here until just before Christmas. Many of us were entranced by it, but the shortage stretched on into 1981 and it was spring before the country was fully stocked.
The helpful narrator reminded us that we were watching a video tape (fat chance of that for most of us back in 1981) and so could rewind it if we missed any points, and a cheap disco soundtrack kept the whole thing groovin'.
"I'm over half way there," said Ollie pleased, going through the moves again between mouthfuls of fish pie. Brr-ik, Brr-ik went the Cube confidently.
"They say it helps with maths," said Mum.
People were doing the Cube absolutely everywhere - as this newspaper article from the "Sun", May 13, 1982, shows!
If you were not particularly clever, not at all mathematically minded, but managed to solve the Rubik's Cube, and were sitting there, all smug and complacent, 1982 had a surprise in store for you - the release of the even harder Rubik's Revenge! Happy days!