“It’s poetry, art and math working in magical synchronicity. It’s the perfect game,” proclaims entrepreneur Henk Rogers in 1988, in the movie Tetris about the addictive, ubiquitous video game. Apple TV+ said the film was, “inspired by the true story of how [Rogers] risked his life to outsmart the KGB and turn Tetris into a worldwide sensation.”
Rogers, who is portrayed by actor Taron Egerton in the movie, attended the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa in the 1970s, and studied computer science. Today he is the president of the Tetris Company and the founder of companies and non-profit organizations focused on renewable energy, space exploration and ending the use of fossil fuels.
He shared a condensed version of his Tetris story, when he addressed UH Mānoa graduates at their commencement in 2011.
“It was a very exciting adventure that involved a long cast of characters, including…the KGB, the Soviet Politburo and even Mikhail Gorbachev,” Rogers recalled.
Within days, Rogers was in Japan with the rights to Tetris for the new Nintendo Game Boy and the rest is history. According to Tetris.org, billions of Tetris games are played online every year, and more than 520 million units have been sold worldwide.
Rogers received an honorary doctorate from UH Mānoa in 2015. Tetris, which was created by computer programmer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2024.
—By Kelli Abe Trifonovitch